“They bring what no one else can sell, and they can bring it and bring it, day after day,” said Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst. “They delve into things that are really in the background for others.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a 34 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 compared with the year before, and an 86 percent increase in the first quarter of 2017.
The Forward’s staff has firsthand experience. Ms. Eisner said the threats directed toward the staff during the presidential race — often through emails or social media — had invoked Holocaust imagery like gas chambers and included images of the anti-Semitic meme Pepe the Frog.
“These are not creative people,” said Dan Friedman, the executive editor.
Still, “to some staff members, it was a little terrifying,” Ms. Eisner said at the publication’s Financial District headquarters, several blocks from The Forward’s birthplace on the Lower East Side.
The threats were serious enough that Ms. Feddersen decided to add more security measures, including a third door that requires an ID to pass through before reaching the office. When threats are made, The Forward now has a set process on how to report them to the police and the F.B.I.; the whole staff has gone through emergency drills.
“We really took it seriously, and it wasn’t fun,” Ms. Feddersen said. “It was not why anybody gets into this business. But that comes with the job, so we kind of have to do it.”
It was especially jarring for The Forward’s roughly 25-person editorial staff of mostly young journalists, for whom anti-Semitism in the United States had been something on the fringes that could be easily ignored — a generation that, in Ms. Eisner’s words, “grew up in Obama’s America” and took inclusion as a given. But it can be jarring even for Ms. Eisner, 61, who recalled recently walking by a church around the corner from her home on the Upper West Side that rents space to a synagogue, and seeing swastikas drawn on it.
“I’m written about on neo-Nazi blogs. David Duke talks about me on his Twitter feed,” said Sam Kestenbaum, a reporter who focuses on anti-Semitism and the alt-right, the far-right fringe movement that advocates a range of racist positions. “I knew that individuals received email threats, and certainly I did.”
When he tried to interview Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, Mr. Kestenbaum was told, “I don’t talk to Jews on the phone.” Mr. Kestenbaum emailed Mr. Anglin questions instead.
Mr. Kestenbaum has also written about the white nationalist Richard B. Spencer and tracked a group of Jews who embraced white nationalism.
The Forward also has Ari Feldman and Larry Cohler-Esses, a senior investigative reporter, who wrote the article about Mr. Gorka and recently examined how President Trump’s father was once arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally. Mr. Feldman’s coverage has included reports about viral moments like students at an all-girls Catholic school who posted on social media about playing swastika beer pong and an analysis of how the line between alt-right and neo-Nazi has thinned.
“What I’m sensing now is the commitment to doing the work,” Ms. Eisner said.
Which was certainly the focus when it came to covering the Charlottesville rally, an event that, in another year, The Forward may not have sent a reporter to.
“We wanted to get what happened across anecdotally but also contextualize it in terms of our experience and, most obviously, the experience of the Holocaust,” Mr. Friedman said.
In addition to articles on the rally and its fallout, there were stories on Jews who were observing the Sabbath during the riot, and on Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor. Nathan Guttman, The Forward’s Washington-based reporter, also wrote a first-person account of what it had been like to cover the rally.
Mr. Friedman wrote a scathing critique of Mr. Trump’s initially muted comments about the events, titled “For Shame,” which Ms. Eisner said had appropriately expressed The Forward’s reaction.
But Ms. Eisner, who became editor in chief in 2008, cautioned members of her staff against letting their emotions overtake their journalistic principles.
“When we were just a Yiddish publication or when we were just in print in English, we were just speaking to a self-selected group,” she said.
Now, Mr. Friedman said, “we live in the age of social media, where everyone in the world is potentially just one click away from reading The Forward.”
One sign of this caution: The Forward is very slow to use the word “Nazi” in its reporting.
“We want to be accurate and fair and passionate in our journalism, but we don’t want to inflame,” Ms. Eisner said. “We want to make sure that we are putting things into context, that we’re not contributing to this divisiveness.”
Still, it is impossible for those at The Forward to disconnect themselves totally from the story.
“We’re journalists first in this job,” Ms. Eisner said. “But we’re also Americans, and we’re also Jews. And we can’t help feeling affected in all three ways.”
An earlier version of this article misstated the position of Dan Friedman at The Forward. He is executive editor, not managing editor.
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