That was the nonironic headline used by the editor of a newspaper I worked for during the Clinton administration: “Greatest newspaper ever.”
Two decades later, I don’t have any clue about the editorial content of that historic edition. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t even the greatest issue of The Washington Times, let alone the greatest newspaper ever published anywhere.
But the editor, Wes Pruden, wasn’t touting anything we had written. He was celebrating the ads. It was the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday for retailers and usually producing the thickest issue of the year for daily newspapers. In the case of the Times, then less than 15 years old and not exactly a magnet for advertisers, it was the biggest issue ever.
The issue of the AJT you’re reading now is not the greatest ever or the greatest this year. Coming so soon after our Leo Frank, synagogue and Katrina issues, I’m not sure it’s even the greatest in the past month.
But at 88 pages, it is the biggest issue of the 34 we’ve published in 2015, and that’s something the whole community should celebrate.
First, a couple of qualifiers. The Rosh Hashanah issue is traditionally the biggest issue of the year for a Jewish newspaper, rivaled only by Passover and Chanukah, and the High Holiday page counts were well into the triple digits at the AJT’s business peak.
But that peak was back in the 1990s. Last year, we published 56 pages at Rosh Hashanah. It just so happens that our standard issue this year has been 32 pages, so we’ve added an entire week’s worth of newspaper to get to 88 pages from last year’s 56.
Just as encouraging, we’re up 24 pages from the 64-page Passover issue we published five months ago.
We’re able to publish more pages because you’re buying more ads. We aim for a 50-50 mix between ads and editorial content, so this 88-page newspaper has roughly 44 pages of actual words and photos — news, events, opinions and entertainment — compared with 32 pages, ads included, in a normal issue.
That’s pretty great.
The point of all this talk about page counts isn’t to gloat or to bore you with numbers. It’s to thank you.
Owner/Publisher Michael Morris and I took up the 90-year-old mantle of this newspaper in January in the belief that the Atlanta Jewish community needed and wanted it. All of us, not least our dedicated sales account managers, have worked hard to produce a paper you can be proud of, and we’ve received enough positive comments to make a hardened, cynical newsman like me blush.
But the proof comes when you open your wallets, both to subscribe (only $65 a year — such a deal) and to advertise. This week’s issue is the strongest evidence yet that we’re making progress and the community is buying in.
I believe that advertisers get more than their money’s worth from the AJT in the awareness and business they gain from being in front of our readership, but it’s worth remembering that everyone in our community benefits from our advertisers’ investment in the AJT. The more ads we sell, the more space we have to write about and for Jewish Atlanta. So in addition to advertising and subscribing, you can boost the AJT, your community newspaper, by supporting our advertisers.
With a little help from all of you, we can make 40 or 48 or 56 pages a standard week, and we’ll mark Rosh Hashanah 5777 with an issue so big that we’ll look back in laughter at the idea that we started 5776 with the greatest paper ever.