CJN selects new president, names editor

The CJN's new editor, Yoni Goldstein

The CJN is moving forward under new leadership, with Elizabeth Wolfe stepping into the role as the newspaper’s president and Yoni Goldstein as the new editor who will be leading the staff as of Jan. 6.

Wolfe, who had been serving as The CJN’s vice-president since last June until she was officially installed as president on Dec. 12, said she is hopeful she’ll be able to successfully lead the paper into the future.

“I think we’re looking at an evolution. We’re hoping to modernize the paper, to make it interesting and appealing, not only to its current audience, but to younger generations as well,” she said.

“We are beginning to take the first steps towards a re-design. We are hiring someone this week to help us change the look and the format of the paper… We really do need and want to transition to something that is just a little… bit edgier.”

Wolfe said she expects Goldstein, 33, who takes over from interim editor Joseph Serge, will bring that edge to the paper.

The Toronto-born-and-raised Yeshivat Or Chaim graduate said he’d like The CJN to be “an honest broker for the Jewish community,” which he hopes will attract a younger readership.

“To me, that means celebrating all of the great things that are happening in the community, but also highlighting the difficulties in the community, because there are many, and we’re not going to fix any of those things if we sweep them under the carpet and don’t talk about them,” he said.

“I think honesty is attractive to younger readers… They start to question publications when they feel like they’re not getting the whole story.”

Goldstein, a former CJN columnist whose journalism experience includes working for the Jerusalem Report, Maclean’s magazine and the National Post, as well as being a contributor to the Huffington Post, the Globe and Mail, the Wall Street Journal and Ha’aretz, said one of his ambitions is give The CJN a better online presence by making better use of social media outlets.

“We want to be providing information on a daily basis for our readers online… We’re also going to be out in the community much more. We’ll be far more visible.”

He said he intends to “give voice to all sides. We want to change the perception of being soft. To my mind, there are no topics that are off limits. In fact, we want to talk about issues that have been off limits, like addiction, sexuality, abuse in the community,” as well as the burden of day school tuition and the increasing gulf between religious denominations.

His vision includes “a modernized magazine-style newspaper that focuses on issues and ideas with a larger online component with much more daily content available.”

Wolfe said she hopes Goldstein will give The CJN “some new direction, some new energy, which I think is really important, and perspective from someone who has knowledge of the community, with a background in journalism and wants to go forward and appeal to a younger generation.”

Donald Carr, who stepped down as president after 23 years and was named chairman emeritus by the board of directors, said he’s confident Wolfe will succeed in revitalizing the paper.

“Elizabeth will be carrying on a wonderful tradition started by her father, and she has a very deep commitment to the paper, as she has to the community,” Carr said.

In 1971, the late Ray Wolfe, Elizabeth’s father, was part of a group that bought the newspaper from founder Meyer Nurenberger and converted it into the non-profit, independent paper it is today.

“I can’t distinguish in my own mind how much of my commitment to the paper is driven because of the family connection and how much of it is driven because I believe deeply that it is a really valuable asset to the community and something that the community needs,” she said.

Wolfe said she is “certainly hopeful” The CJN will be able to overcome the financial challenges that led it to cease production last June.

It resumed publishing Aug. 1 after a grassroots campaign to save the paper.

“There are a couple of challenges. One is a challenge that all newspapers face in terms of declining advertising revenue, and people transitioning to Internet-based material… [and] not being interested in paying for it,” she said.

“We’ve been told that we are a niche market and that we should be able to surmount those challenges, because we have a very specific audience and a very specific message that really isn’t met anywhere else.”

As for what the distant future holds for The CJN, Wolfe predicted that it will likely only be available electronically.

“Whether 10 years from now we’ll still have a print edition will be interesting to find out. I would hope that we would continue in an electronic version… until the next thing comes along,” she said.

Goldstein said he’s looking forward to putting his stamp on one of the newspapers that gave him his start in the industry.

“When [former CJN editor] Mordechai [Ben-Dat] was leading the paper, he gave me a chance to develop my voice and to develop as a journalist as well, so I feel a deep connection to the newspaper going back many years. I really hope to continue the legacy of those who came before me and turn the paper into something special for the new generation as well.”