Tuesday, December 7th | 3 Tevet 5782

January 12, 2011 7:02 pm

What is Wrong with Jewish Media?

avatar by Dovid Efune


In the Mea Sharim neighborhood in Jerusalem, posters are the common form of social communication. In the wider community Jewish media is still somewhat limited in it's scope and broadness of its appeal. Photo: Nickolette.

Media – defined as the means of communication, such as radio, television, newspapers, and magazines that reach or influence people widely.

In seeking to label the period in which we currently live, time and again the term ‘Information age’ has been used. Rapid global communications and networking made possible by breakneck technological advances, have undoubtedly made the world a smaller place and facilitated the unsurpassed spread of knowledge. This has led in many ways to greater understanding between various cultures and communities around the globe. So let’s have a look at how the ‘People of the Book’ have fared in a world of Notebooks and Facebook.

In a basic sense, Jewish media can be divided into two categories.  The first, communication amongst Jews and Jewish communities around the world; the second, Jewish communication with the world at large. Whilst in the first category there is certainly much room for improvement, progress in the second category is minimal, if existent, and remains a pressing challenge to Jewish leaders. Let us analyze and consider some of the opportunities that are out there.

If one had to ask a young Jew if there is a media outlet that they regularly turn to for news and information in the Jewish world that imparts them with a sense of belonging and involvement, it is likely that the most frequent response would be Jdate.  My own recent experience in advising an established sports promotion company on how to target advertising for a sports event to young Jews, soon made me realize that we would be hard-pressed to locate an outlet that could deliver this audience.

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Secondly, in the world of Jewish media, the relationship between the content provider and consumer appears to be quite limited. The existing Jewish news outlets largely operate in somewhat of a parochial fashion, essentially dictating to their audiences what they should be reading, what they should be thinking about, and what they should be interested in. There is a serious need for an outlet that will strive to close the gap, and listen carefully to and involve the Jewish community and audience in order to supply the most relevant content that truly addresses their concerns, interests and ideals.

Thirdly, Jewish media is primarily localized, with independent news providers serving many of the world’s largest Jewish communities. Whilst there are some larger outlets that report on happenings from around the globe, there is no comprehensive global media outlet that acts as a one-stop destination for all international Jewish news.

Perhaps a global Jewish news outlet could serve as a stepping stone for progress on the second category, namely, Jewish communication with the outside world. To be fair, there is one website that was launched for this purpose by Italy’s Jewish community.  It is the first of its kind, quite groundbreaking in nature as it strives to act as a Jewish news source for non-Jews. The need and demand for similar projects is certainly widespread as there is an almost universal interest in what the Jewish nation is up to. Many around the world, from decision makers to the culturally curious are anxious to learn about Jewish ideas, opinions, and the issues that matter most to the Jewish community at any given time.

Whilst when delivering news, there are certain standards for reporting and presenting information in an informative fashion, the world of media is by no means limited by this and outlets can be utilized to represent a position and even a worldview. It is high time that Jewish communities begin to effectively communicate Jewish positions and interests on a global scale. The strength of the media in today’s world has been widely acknowledged and its influence and impact in its various forms have had great affect. As Jews, if we are to fulfill our mission to serve as a light unto the nations, we must strive to better harness these powerful tools of our time.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at [email protected].

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