REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: We, the journalists

Over 100 Jewish media professionals from around the world gathered in Jerusalem for the first Jewish Media Summit, a four-day conference on issues facing Jewish journalists today.

June 24, 2014 08:32
2 minute read.
FORMER PRISONERS OF ZION Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Jewish Agency chairman

FORMER PRISONERS OF ZION Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (left) and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky address a Jewish Media Summit panel yesterday moderated by Forward editor Jane Eisner. (photo credit: AVIVA LOEB)

In a sense, the Jewish Media Summit taking place this week in Jerusalem is all about us. “Us,” in this case, refers to two young, American, Jewish interns at a print newspaper, inheritors of a new world of media in the evolving world of journalism.

We are the very generation that today’s media struggle to reach. In an evolving world of journalism, “we” will be the ones faced with the issues being discussed: staying relevant and reaching our peers through social media outlets in addition to, or rather than traditional print publications.

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Though the panels and formal conversations of the conference were certainly fascinating, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the summit was the interactions among attendees, people of different nationalities with a shared journalistic experience.

“I am here because of the reporters,” said Tom Weiss, vice president of AIBC-TV in Israel and one of the conference participants. “How do we include the reporters more? With Jewish media satellites all over the world, how do we put them into play?” Many commented on the challenges of balancing being Jewish and being a journalist in the face of apparent contradictions in how to report issues that directly affect the Jewish community.

Weiss, however, felt that there is no incongruity between the two roles.

“There is no contradiction,” he said. “[because] we need to be as professional as we can possibly be.”

Said one coordinator of the conference, “As long as you maintain objectivity, there is no contradiction.”

The debate referred to current events, as many participants felt the heavy weight of reporting on the recent kidnappings and Israeli actions in response.

The conference also touched on how we journalists are able to maintain journalistic integrity as Jews when topics like this hit so close to home.

Over lunch, we discussed this paradox with more experienced journalists – raising questions about reporting from a country where bad news is the only news conveyed to the rest of the world, and how to balance covering a big, important story from a popular (or personally satisfying) angle with an objective journalistic viewpoint.

Interactions with Jewish journalists from all parts of the Jewish world helped us discover that – because the issues are shared, we can reach for shared solutions to problems having to do with producing successful publications while maintaining Jewish integrity.

As one journalist said, being an active participant in the changing world of journalism “starts with a dream.” If that is the case, “we” are well on our way.

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