BOSTON – The Orthodox Observer, the official newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has stopped printing after 86 years and from now on it will only be available in electronic form. The National Herald learned that the basic reason for the decision was to save money. A few weeks ago three of its employees were dismissed: Stavros Papagermanos, Director and Executive Editor, Jim Golding, Editor, and Soula Podara, Administrative Assistant.
The new spokesman of the Archdiocese Fr. Evagoras Constantinides in a written statement told The National Herald that “earlier this year, it was decided to transform the Orthodox Observer from a printed newspaper to an exclusively web-based source. We are responding to the changing landscape of how the news is covered and delivered to its readers. The new Observer will be premiering on May 26, and will provide much needed updates that relate to the cataclysmic events of the COVID-19 pandemic." Constantinides noted that “Dr. Stratos Safioleas is its Senior Adviser.
The Orthodox Observer had stopped regular publication after the eruption of the financial crisis of the Archdiocese during the tenure of Archbishop Demetrios of America, but it resumed later.
Apparently, the decision of Archbishop Elpidophoros to terminate the print edition of the Orthodox Observer is part of his plans to purge the finances of the Archdiocese. It was widely known that the Orthodox Observer had a limited readership and prestige.
The newspaper was published and circulated monthly and sometimes bi-monthly in both Greek and English, although the quality of the Greek section was declining. As the official organ of the Archdiocese it published encyclicals, statements, and documents, as well as many photographs of the Archbishops and their activities through the years. At the Clergy-Laity Congress it used to publish daily a two-page newsletter containing information about the meetings and seminars of the Congress along with photographs.
It was often used as a fundraising tool for the Archdiocese, the School of Theology, St. Basil’s Academy, the St. Nicholas Church at the World Trade Center, the St. Photios Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, and relief efforts after natural disasters in Greece or Cyprus.
The Orthodox Observer was established in 1934 by Archbishop Athenagoras (Spirou) who later became Ecumenical Patriarch. The Observer was initially published in a magazine format and it assumed the newspaper format in 1971 under the late Archbishop Iakovos. With the advent of the Digital Age, the Orthodox was also available on the web in electronic form.
The print edition was mailed to the residences of families in “good standing” of the parishes, meaning those families who had paid their annual membership to the parish, which also made them eligible to run for parish office or participate as godparents at baptisms and Best Man and Maid of Honor at baptisms.
The Observer also welcomed paid subscribers who didn’t contribute to their parishes, and it also accepted commercial advertisements – i.e. from real estate firms or travel agencies – in violation of the laws governing non-profit organizations.