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On the Jewish media

2014 Ruderman Memorial Lecture

Dina Kraft, associate program coordinator for the Northeastern's School of Journalism, right, speaks during the "On the Jewish Media" panel discussion Monday night.

What makes a story Jewish?” This simple and com­pelling ques­tion kicked off a panel dis­cus­sion Monday night at the 2014 Morton E. Rud­erman Memo­rial Lec­ture event titled “On the Jewish Media.”

The ques­tion was posed by Brooke Glad­stone, host ofNPR’s On the Media, who mod­er­ated a dis­cus­sion between Dina Kraft, an asso­ciate pro­gram coor­di­nator in Northeastern’s School of Jour­nalism who worked in The Asso­ci­ated Press’ Jerusalem bureau; Mark Oppen­heimer, a colum­nist for The New York Times and con­tributing editor of Tablet; and Jane Eisner, editor-​​in-​​chief of Jewish Daily For­ward.

If (a story) illu­mi­nates our world, if it touches our soul, if it tells us some­thing that we didn’t know, even if that some­thing is dis­com­forting, and it broadens our sense of who we are as Jews, then it’s a For­ward story,” Eisner said.

More than 150 people attended the event, which was held in the Raytheon Amp­ithe­ater and pre­sented by the Jewish Studies Pro­gram and theNorth­eastern Human­i­ties Center.

The annual Rud­erman Memo­rial Lec­ture is sup­ported by the Rud­erman Family Foun­da­tion, which was cre­ated in honor of alumnus Mort Rud­erman,E’59. The foun­da­tion aims to pro­duce and pro­mote inno­va­tion that fos­ters inclu­sion of people with dis­abil­i­ties in the Jewish com­mu­nity and Israel, and to strengthen rela­tion­ships between Israel and the U.S. Jewish community.

Lori Lefkovitz, the inau­gural Rud­erman Pro­fessor of Jewish Studies, director of the Jewish Studies Pro­gram, and director of the North­eastern Human­i­ties Center, said in her wel­coming remarks that when plan­ning this year’s memo­rial lec­ture, the orga­nizers were mindful of the tur­moil going on in the world and the impor­tance of jour­nalism during trying times.

Because people have pas­sionate views on all sides of every issue, and pas­sionate views about press cov­erage, we hoped that both the Jewish com­mu­nity and the uni­ver­sity would want to engage in a serious dis­cus­sion about media,” Lefkovitz explained.

The pan­elists agreed that the Israel-​​Gaza con­flict that erupted this summer makes this a unique time to be a jour­nalist in the Jewish media. Kraft said the Jewish media story evolved into the social media story, as many people took to the Internet to express opin­ions about the con­flict and its cov­erage in the media.

You couldn’t open your Face­book page without wanting to imme­di­ately close it because there were thou­sands of screaming voices going back and forth,” Kraft said. “I’ve been plan­ning to con­tact the Face­book data people and see if there was a spike in de-​​friending over the summer related to Israel and Palestine.”

Having written for both Jewish pub­li­ca­tions and other religious-​​affiliated pub­li­ca­tions, Oppen­heimer said not only can you find every point of view in Jewish media, but Jewish media is also the only reli­gious media that really inves­ti­gates itself.

The larger Evan­gel­ical Chris­tian pub­li­ca­tions and Roman Catholic pub­li­ca­tions are not inter­ested in that type of cov­erage,” Oppen­heimer said. “The Jewish media is entirely on its own and unique in taking hard cov­erage of its own com­mu­nity seriously.”

-By Joe O’Connell

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