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April 12, 1985 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-04-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

10 Friday, April 12, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

NOTEBOOK

Danish craffsmanship brings you
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At Last Harvard
Noted • The Value
Of Jewish Journalism

B BAKA

A conference at Harvard last week devoted
a full day to the problems and prospects of
the Jewish press.

BY GARY ROSENBLATT

Editor

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The first thought that struck
me when I saw the elegant
brochure announcing a con-
ference on the Jewish press at
Harvard University was that
only a secular institution could
make Jewish journalism look so
important.
It's a.shame, but it's true. It
would be unheard of for a major
national Jewish organization to
hold a full-day conference on
Jewish journalism. And, as I
said at the outset of my presen-
tation at the conference, held
last Monday • at the Harvard
College Library in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, that's a large
part of the problem. For we in
the field of Jewish journalism
are constantly struggling for
respectability from the estab-
lishment Jewish organizations
with whom we have a longstand-
ing love-hate relationship.
Indeed, we are like teenagers
- constantly striving to win our
elders' respect and admiration
while at the same time needing
desperately to assert our in-
dependence.
This ambivalence has been
heightened in recent years as an
increasing number of Jewish
federations around the country
have gone into competition with
independent Jewish newspapers.
This confrontation, as well as
the true role of the Jewish press,
were the major themes of the
opening session of the confer-
ence, which drew more than a
hundred journalists from Jewish
and general publications, librar-
ians, scholars and students from
across the nation, as well as
from Israel and Europe.
Jerome Lippman, publisher of
the independent Long Island
Jewish World, which has waged
an outspoken battle against the
Federation- controlled New
York Jewish Week, asserted in
his presentation that "Federa-
tions have declared war on in-
dependent newspapers." He
described
the Jewish press as
a
primarily bland and lacking in
controversy, and attributed
these problems to economics
and "the oppressive involve-
ment of local Federations in the
Jewish newspaper field." Jour-
nalistic integrity has been sac-
rificed to promote fundraising in
these papers, he charged, while
concluding that "the Federation
tide may have run its course."
I tried to strike a balance in
my presentation, suggesting
that the Federation vs. indepen-
dent situation is not one of good
vs. evil, black vs. white. While
stressing that in theory I strong-
ly disapprove of the Federation
effort to become involved in the
newspaper business, I said that
in reality there are some fine
Federation papers and some

awful independent papers. The
trend toward Federation control
is disturbing and dangerous -
in large part because of what it
said about the leadership of the
Jewish community in thinking
that they are serving a Jewish
community by controlling it.
What we desperately need is
more voices, not fewer - but the
Federation involvement will
continue, I fear.
As for the role of the Jewish
journalist, I suggested that it
must include a dimension be-

The Jewish Press

A Conference

Monday
April 1, 1985
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

yond that of a secular journalist,
incorporating the notion that
each Jew is responsible for his
fellow Jew. And I spoke of our
dilemma in being caught be-
tween our duty as a journalist to
uncover and report the truth
and our duty as Jews to cover
up community embarassments.
The primary dilemma, then, is
one of reconciling the ethic of
journalistic honesty with the
ethic of Jewish responsibility.
Of promoting Jewish loyalty
and unity without being cheer-
leaders. And there are no easy
answers to walking that tight-
rope.
Charles Fenyvesi, editor of
the Washington Jewish Week,
told the audience the "honey-
moon" between the American
press and Israel has ended.
"Because of the evolving new
realities (including the war in
Lebanon), the two cultures -
American journalism and tradi- -
tional Zionism - are in conflict.
Israel can no longer rely upon a
sympathetic treatment," he
said. "Instead, Israel has to
fight to get a fair hearing...
Those of us who are both com-
mitted Jews and professional
journalists will have a hard time
reconciling our love of Israel
with disapproval of some of its
policies. For the American

Continued on Page 12

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