It is however true that we are not “professionals.” We do not get paid to blog. A professional news gathering organization like the JTA is and ought to be seen as an essential and important part of the Jewish community. But please, do not cast aspersions on bloggers’ capabilities. Successful bloggers are passionate about what they write about. They don’t cover a story because someone told them to – they cover it because they care. This adds an added dimension to Jewish Story telling that you often don’t get in traditional Jewish media. Furthermore, because bloggers aren’t professional, they are independent and are free to cover controversial stories that news gathering organizations, beholden to their major funders, wouldn’t touch.
In fact, one can arguably state that the rapid rise and success of the Jewish blogosphere came about because traditional Jewish media had become as stale and uninteresting as the organized Jewish community organizations that funded them and for whom they gladly acted as mouthpieces. Just as the organized Jewish community was seen as unfriendly and unsupportive of young Jewish innovators and alternative perspectives, so too did the traditional Jewish media do a rotten job of presenting content that was interesting to the emergent digital generation.
Now I’d like to think that the organized Jewish community is making progress and being more receptive to and accepting of a multiplicity of voices. The JTA however has taken a giant step backwards and I hope for their sake and ours that this was just a momentary setback, an editing error or a poorly thought out idea. I eagerly look forward to some kind of clarification or retraction by the JTA.