[T]he most pressing reason is that major concerns of Jewish life are increasingly influenced by what goes on at college campuses. Whether it’s academia’s approach to teaching Israel, or anti-Semitism faced by students, events and issues that resonate with the entire Jewish community often are located there — and there’s no better place to get that information than from the students themselves. More so, the future of American Jewish life is to be found there: if the Harvard Hillel makes a decision about how its campus community will practice the rituals of Shabbos dining, that will have a very real influence on the larger Jewish community over time.
[…However,] our most important audience is the students themselves. Whether it’s in attending an event on campus, engaging in a discussion about an issue affecting the Jewish community, or responding to an affront, what students most need is good information and a place to share their views. CampusJ gives them that.
And soon enough, CampusJ won’t be the only one providing the online Jewish community with these assets. Evidently taking a cue from Weiss, several other Jewish entities plan to launch similar projects within the year.
JMT Ventures (publishers of SomethingJewish) are in the process of launching their own Jewish campus journalism site, as is New Voices (the national Jewish student magazine) which will be launching their own student blog later this month, and finally Israel21c (which recently introduced the Israeli megablog Israelity) is in the development stages for a similar project for Israeli college students.
Weiss doesn’t see these projects as competition, however. He recently told Jewschool, “I’m not all that worried that either project would poach our writers or approach: neither seems to have that aim. In light of that, I welcome them, in the sense that they’ll add to our readership and to the conversation we’re having.
“Blog niches rely in large part on what I’m calling mushrooming: a given blog generates discussion on a topic and sees other blogs either begin to discuss that topic or launch to discuss that topic. A large part of what we need at CampusJ is the support structure of blogs touching on the same topics we are, so that we can have more and better content, and more traffic headed in both directions.”