Culture, Religion

Jewschool scoops the Jewish Week

Following Jewschool’s lead, the Jewish Week has reported on lame-duck JTS chancellor Ismar Schorsch’s farewell rant.
They have obtained a transcript of Schorsch’s speech, so they’ve released a few more amazing nuggets, including an attack on “the primitiveness of rap”, and a false dichotomy between “the dense and demanding discourse of scholarship” and “the rhythmic beat of the drums”. (He applies this dichotomy to the younger generation’s tastes by saying “A synagogue out of sync is deemed bereft of spirituality”, as if the soulless Conservative synagogues that this generation is shunning are hotbeds of scholarly discourse.)
Jewschool broke the story first, and the Jewish Week indeed gave proper credit to this “Internet chat room” [sic], quoting the Rooftopper Rav at length, as well as a number of comments in that thread. (Go see if you’re famous!)
The reporter’s biases are fascinating: he refers to the Rooftopper Rav and two commenters (Yeilah and striemel) as “he”. Of course, none of them identified their gender in their posts (nor is it obvious from their blognomens), but the writer assumes that the default blogger, or the default “rav”, or the default human, is male.
Also, the last two paragraphs suggest that they are quoting two different people, but they in fact come from the same comment. This comment was one of the few supporting Schorsch. Perhaps the Jewish Week was making one person appear to be two in order to make the story more “balanced”?

14 thoughts on “Jewschool scoops the Jewish Week

  1. Wow, I am really furious about the rap comments. I may be a dedicated Conservative Jew who never really loved Schorsch’s visions for the movement, but I have worked very hard to connect hip hop with scholarly discourse, and I am just appalled that he would try to place hip hop and scholarship at opposite poles (or so I understand from BZ’s post). I guess he wouldn’t be too happy to know that Ramah has inspired me to study hip hop more than it inspired me to be a Conservative rabbi.

  2. Wow, is that my 15 min? And if I’m not one, but two, does that mean I qualify for medical leave?

  3. Yes, Stuart Ain definitely cherry-picked quotes to make the story seem “balanced.”
    Moreover, his efforts to “advance” the story by speaking to Ismar came across as pretty pathetic. Why didn’t he challenge Ismar on the self-pity and denial of responsibility?

  4. 1) the article also calls Jewschool a Web blog [sic], which while still not exactly correct in terms of spelling, is at least better than “Internet chat room.” give the guy SOME credit.
    2) it’s pathetic, imho, that the article’s author, Stewart Ain, couldn’t get more live people to comment on the speech for attribution. i wonder why — hundreds of people were at the commencement, and surely they or some other Conservative rabbis or leaders could have been reached for comment. Because, after all, Ain really has no idea who’s posting on jewschool — whether they are men or women (as was noted above), whether they actually have done the things they say they have, where they live, who they are, what axes they might have to grind…pretty irresponsible journalism, i would say, to depend so heavily on what are, in essence, anonymous comments.
    3) that said, it hardly seems fair to trumpet that a blog has scooped a weekly. this was the earliest the jewish week could have printed a story about the speech, given that it occurred past last week’s deadline for sending articles to print…

  5. 1) the article also calls Jewschool a Web blog [sic], which while still not exactly correct in terms of spelling, is at least better than “Internet chat room.” give the guy SOME credit.
    Keep reading. Later in the article it says “But the anonymous blogger on the Internet chat room said he came away with three messages from Rabbi Schorsch:”.

  6. Hiphop is the most boring, non-rythmic and lyrically incomprehensible genre of music out there. The man is absolutely right.
    That’s all I had to say.

  7. ie., formermuslim has no rhythm, is hard of hearing and/or finds modern slang inaccessible, and (if he finds hip hop boring) is likely not breathing either.

  8. to second WW, upon reading the JW article, I was astonished that blog comments (not even blog posts themselves) are now considered (at least by that publication’s editorial board) respectable fair-game sources of quotes for news stories…for all he knows, those could have been entirely made up people- it could have all been one or two peopl, it could have been schorsch himself or his enemies….It would be one thing if the story was about “Schorsch’s speech creates online controversy” or something, but for a news story merely about the speech, he really missed the mark on journalistic integrity. I would venture to say that these are possibly even less reliable than anonymous sources, on a story that surely doesn’t require anonymity to be kept- it’s not THAT controversial…(To pre-empt a criticism I know I’ll get…I’m not saying that some people inside the movement don’t have the right to critique his speech anonymously, but reporters should be able to get non-anonymous sources, considering the number of people who heard the speech and have nothing to lose by commenting…)

  9. (Oops. Posted the following in the wrong thread; it belongs here.)
    Anyone interested in collaborating in a rap about Leviticus 20:13? I’d be glad to help select, summarize and rhyme scholarship on the issue in Biblical and Rabbinic texts. Someone else would have to supply sense of rhythm, melody, and samples of Schorsch.

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