Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc. - The Jewish Press Story
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The Jewish Press Story

It was in 1986 that the Jewish Federation of Pinellas County (now Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties) approached Jim Dawkins and Karen Wolfson Dawkins about publishing a Jewish community newspaper for Pinellas County.

The couple was not unknown to the Federation at the time. Karen, then an editor at the Tampa Tribune, and Jim, assistant state editor at the Evening Independent, a now-defunct evening paper owned by the St. Petersburg Times, spent about a year as part-time editors for the Pinellas County version of the Jewish Floridian. In its heyday, the Miami-based Jewish Floridian published seven Jewish newspapers, six in Florida and one in New Orleans. None of the papers exist today.

During their tenure with the Floridian, the Federation was impressed by Jim and Karen’s efforts to make the paper more professional. Consequently, the Federation leadership decided to contract with the Dawkins’ to produce a new independent newspaper.

The Jewish Press of Pinellas County was born on July 1, 1986.

The Federation entered the cooperative agreement with the Jewish Press as the most economical way for the Federation to assure that an editorially-independent, impartial, journalistic-professional newspaper vehicle exists to link the entire Jewish community and help promote Federation and other Jewish causes. The Federation underwrites the home delivery for every identified Jewish household in Pinellas County and portions of Pasco County.

Such cooperative agreements are a way to help insure the survival of smaller Jewish newspapers in areas where the Jewish population is a small portion of the general population. Although not required, community members who receive the paper are encouraged to make a donation to the Federation Annual Campaign to help offset the Federation’s underwriting of home delivery of the Jewish Press.

The majority of the revenue necessary to produce the paper comes from advertising sales.

The Jewish Press, as the saying goes, has come a long way. The first biweekly paper was eight pages, black and white. The record Jewish Press of Pinellas County is 52 pages and all editions now boast full-color. Approximately 4,900 papers are mailed to households in Pinellas and West Pasco County.

Two years after the Pinellas paper was founded, the Jewish Press of Tampa was founded— again at the request of the Tampa Jewish Federation (now the Tampa JCCs and Federation). About 7,000 households in Hillsborough County and central and east Pasco County receive the Tampa edition.

Since the two papers were founded, the Dawkins’ have formed a wholly owned corporation, Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc.

With total circulation of the combined Pinellas and Tampa editions at neary 12,000 households, the Jewish Press is the largest Jewish newspaper in Florida exclusive of the South Florida Gold Coast.

The Jewish Press has twice been honored with an American Jewish Press Association Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish journalism.

Jim and Karen Dawkins’ goal and the Jewish Press’ mission is to be an impartial, ethical community-building force in the Jewish community, providing as much varied information as possible so every Jewish resident knows what is available Jewishly and has an opportunity to be connected to the community and their Jewishness.

Whatever success the Jewish Press has had or will have is due to a basic formula: It takes a four-way partnership between the Federation, the Jewish Press, the readers and advertisers — in which each is dependent on support of the others — to assure there will be a Jewish Press available locally.

Special thanks go to all the volunteer publicity chairs of various Jewish organizations that help keep the Jewish Press informed.

Mailed, Print Version Continues

The biweekly papers are mailed Standard Class meaning there can be a week to 10-day postal delivery delay depending on local post offices and carriers. The possible delay has always been well publicized to advertisers, publicity chairs and public relations firms.

With the launching of this website, the Jewish Press is able to make the print edition available to readers online closely after the print date.