The Power of Blogs (Bloggers)

im_blogging_this_mousepad-p144235669736189018vpo7_325As we posted several hours ago, the JTA sent an ill-advised fundraising solicitation letter out to its newsletter readers.

OK, they need money – what nonprofit doesn’t today. But, the JTA took aim at the blogging world by saying “Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitters, and non-professionals. Is this the best way for our future Jewish stories to be told and recorded?

Now the JTA has a huge PR headache on their hands.

Last summers First Annual International Jewish Bloggers Convention (sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh) drew some 1500 participants (times how many thousands of readers?). Judging by the emails, Facebook and blog posts floating around, JTA has made a significant number of them unhappy.

Here are just two of the many I’ve read (and both are worth reading in full)…

first, from long-time, extremely tuned in and followed EstherK over at MyUrban Kvetch:

“The Info You Need, When You Need It” – why not stick with that as a service motto, instead of resorting to threats or scare tactics? Demonizing a group of people who are united only in one characteristic – the technology they use to ensure that their stories are heard – constructs unnecessary barriers between mainstream media and the communications wave of the present.

If you ask me, the news, personal reflections or opinions that resonate with people who blog or Tweet or Digg or Facebook message are becoming – as much as any piece of current news or element of our written history – a vital part of our Jewish storytelling, for the present and future.  Jewish bloggers are not the enemies of Jewish storytelling: if anything, as bickering, economic collapse and technological confusion compete for communal attention, they just might be its salvation.”

and this from Leah in Chicago: “I have no relationship with the JTA and unless a retraction is posted quickly, this email guarantees that I will never have one. The JTA is one of the news services for the Jewish community and they have put a stake in the ground that a blogger has no right to tell the Jewish story.

…The business of media has changed. Media outlets that raise money by inciting fear of bloggers… these are not the outlets that are going to survive.”

The JT’s solicitation letter has now become a news story – and likely more so once Shabbat ends. Maybe it will also get them donations. But, the Web is unforgiving – and the JTA now stands with the giants of America (remember the Motrin ads last fall?) in PR gone bad.