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March 27, 1992 - Image 159

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-03-27

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shouldn't air dirty laundry.
If that's how you feel, you
can't be a good Jew and a
good Jewish newspaperman
at the same time," he said.
"If the Jewish community
doesn't grow up, I don't
know if we're going to have
anything for them."
At the same time, Mr.
Klein admits that Jewish
papers operate on some
premises that general news-
papers do not. For instance,
Jewish newspapers treat re-
ligion as if it is central to
people's lives and cover
Israel sympathetically. It
gets to the point, Mr. Klein
said, that "even the best,
most perfect Jewish paper
would still have to be an ad-
vocacy paper."
Daniel Schorr, now a
senior news analyst at Na-
tional Public Radio, worked
at the Jewish Telegraphic
Agency from 1934-41. There,
he routinely looked for a
Jewish "angle" to any event.
"I don't know how many
times I had to do the story
about whether Columbus
was Jewish," he said. "You
felt somehow you were look-
ing at the whole world
through this focus."
Now, he says, he's "glad to
be rid of it.
"You were dealing in a
climate where you could not
exercise a full sense of in-
dependence," he said.
Even if Jewish newspapers
could be completely in-
dependent, the Jewish com-
munity, according to one
editor, "does not have many
boat rockers."
Where most newspaper in-
vestigations rely heavily on
unnamed sources, Jewish
papers often wrangle with
federation leaders over get-
ting routine information,
like budget figures.
"Everyone's afraid of get-
ting in trouble," said Mr.
Klein. This, he said, not only
hurts a paper's ability to in-
vestigate stories in depth.
He said it deprives the com-
munity of the criticism it
sometimes needs — and de-
"We're always looking at
what happened after it
happened," he said.
At daily newspapers, in-


"I've had people tell me that they want
a nice paper on Shabbat to read. They tell me
that their Jewish paper should make them
feel good about being Jewish."

Marc Klein, Editor, Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

Mayer Wise did in Cincin-
nati in creating the Reform
"A good, strong, Jewish
newspaper is a key to a good
strong Jewish community.
History will bear that out,"
said Frank Strauss, director
of communications for the
Council for Jewish Federa-
This, editors admit, raises
the ultimate paradox: Is a
Jewish newspaper supposed
to be more "Jewish" than
newspaper"? And what do
people mean by a "good Jew-
ish newspaper"?
To those questions, you
will never receive the same
answers. But most everyone
agrees with Leonard Fein's
assessment: If Jewish news-
papers are irrelevant, boring
and poorly-run, they mirror
the quality and excitement
of contemporary Jewish life.
"Newpapers both reflect
and nurture," he said. "We
could use a wet nurse." ❑


vestigation is how reputa-
tions are earned. But at Jew-
ish papers, even reputable
ones, investigations are
sometimes impossible.
"Dealing with the Jewish
community is like trying to
nail Jell-O to the wall," said
Leonard Fein, the former
editor of Moment magazine.
What's worse, Jewish pa-
pers aren't interested or
capable of doing that kind of
investigation anyway.

"For the most part, the
Jewish press does a better
job of covering Israel than
covering its own back yard,"
said Baltimore, Detroit and
Atlanta editor Gary
But if Jewish papers fail to
do a good job, at least few
have given up. Jewish com-
munity leaders and intellec-
tuals frequently cite Jewish
newspapers as the best
means of creating a cohesive

and strong Jewish commun-
"I don't think you have a
community unless you have
some medium of connec-
tion," said Mr. Fein. Jewish
newspapers, he said, create a
"shared community of
The history of Jewish pa-
pers proves that point. Fre-
quently, Jews have used
their newspapers to solidify
their communities, as Isaac

MARCH 27, 1992


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