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Study: Reporting Jewish
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There is no set path to become a journalist. Some attend journalism school on the undergraduate/graduate level, some enter the field in other ways.

But when it comes to Jewish journalism - considering the challenges unique to our field - should there be more of a set path to follow? Are those in our field literate when it comes to Judaism, Israel, and Jewish ethics? Do we apply Jewish ethics to our decision making?


In 2013, we began to formulate answers to these questions. In partnership with the American Jewish Press Association, Alan Abbey of the iEngage Project at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem conducted a study of more than 100 journalists with Jewish media outlets in North America, Europe, and Israel. Alan announced the launch of this study during AJPA's January 2013 press tour to Israel and presented his findings and recommendations at our annual conference in Seattle in June 2013.

 

The study, Reporting Jewish - Do Journalists Have the Tools to Succeed? explored the needs of journalists in Jewish media, how we relate to our communities, and what kind of training and study we may need to improve our work. Assistance and support for this study came from scholars and fellows of the Hartman Institute's iEngage Project, the Master of Arts in Digital Journalism Program at National University of San Diego, and the Worlds of Journalism research project conducted by a consortium of communications and media academics in 80 countries.

This landmark project gave us an unprecedented profile of those in our field. The results will now serve as AJPA's guide for how professionals in our field can become more successful in balancing work and communal responsibilities, and how we can best attract and train the next generation of journalists in Jewish media. 

My takeaway from Alan's study of editors, reporters and writers in the field of Jewish journalism is that AJPA has a void to fill. We can and should train our journalists about Jewish ethics and how to apply them to journalism. We can and should play more of a role in educating our journalists about Judaism and Israel overall.

In his study, Alan proposes four key recommendations. Over the coming year, we'll consider these recommendations. We'll explore how we can provide more formal training for current and future journalists in Jewish media (and, of course, the funding to make it possible). I see this as AJPA's way of making itself indispensable to our field.
We already plunged into a project to cultivate the next generation of Jewish journalists. Along with Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles, we were the co-sponsors of the first conference of the Jewish Scholastic Press Association, Oct. 24-27, 2013 in Los Angeles. The mastermind of this project was AJPA member Joelle Keene, faculty advisor to Shalhevet's phenomenal student newspaper  The Boiling Point. In Joelle's words, "we wanted to help our kids become educated, top-flight journalists who can become leaders of college and professional publications, while employing values we share."

Susan Freudenheim, managing editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, was AJPA's liaison on this project, helping Joelle put together sessions with topics such as Jewish journalism ethics; covering Israel in the college press; press freedom in religious high schools; copyright law for newspapers and news websites; how to localize world and national news; page and double-page layout and design; photojournalism; and how to find news in the Torah.

Speakers for the student conference included Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher of the New York Jewish Week, and Jennifer Medina, national correspondent for The New York Times. Please click here to read Gary's article on the event. 

This is an exciting time for AJPA. We invite you to join us on this journey.
 
- Marshall Weiss, AJPA President

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