A year-end journalistic convention is the compilation of top news stories. In many cases this exercise results in a superficial and mind-numbing review of the natural disasters and social eruptions that consumed the press over the past year. I happened to see one such report over the holiday weekend on CNN. One memorable sequence of talking heads concerned the rise of the Tea Party.
The pundits and comedians selected by CNN editors gassed on about how this grassroots movement suddenly emerged and reshaped the national political scene. I kept waiting for the commentator who would explain that moneyed interests — the Koch brothers, Fox News and others — pumped money into the Tea Party groups in order to disseminate their ideological agenda, which includes tax cuts for the wealthy, gutting environmental regulations and preserving a dysfunctional medical insurance system. None of the CNN pundits apparently read my Oct. 15, 2010, editorial, which commended Jane Mayer’s article about the billionaire Koch brothers in the Aug. 30 edition of The New Yorker.
So, tooting our own Jewish press horn, I will mention that, in contrast to much of the junk that passes for news, the paper you’re holding in your hands contains a diversity of opinion articles, and news stories that try to provide serious analysis of events in Minnesota, the United States, Israel and the world. We offer this service 26 times per year.
And I will also comment on the unprecedented number of obituaries that appear in this issue of the Jewish World. I have no idea what happened, but the obits start on Page 18 and run over much of Page 19. And we remember Mickey Smith, an extraordinarily committed philanthropist, in a Page 1 story.
I also want to remember Nancy Stesin, a great supporter of the AJW and a wonderful, kind friend. Nancy had a career as a journalist for a number of periodicals (and wrote occasionally for the Jewish World). She later worked as a publicist, and in that role often pitched stories to us. A St. Louis Park native, Nancy always had a wealth of information about who was doing what on the Minneapolis side of the community. This was not always news fit for dissemination in the newspaper; but it rounded my understanding of Jewish communal dynamics.
Now Nancy is gone, and I will miss her. And I will miss the conduit she provided to the kind of news that was once available when the Jewish community was contained in discrete neighborhoods — the North Side of Minneapolis and the West Side of St. Paul. The time has passed when one could go to the Jewish meat market for theÂ emes.
Perhaps some other readers can step up now and let us know what stories should be covered in the paper. Or what is really behind some of the stories we hear through the grapevine. This is not a social networking application, but there is definitely an interactive aspect to our community newspaper.
Generally, I have the impression that AJW subscribers value this publication. I know that some readers take issue with certain editorials; sometimes calumnies are hurled at me, the editor of this esteemed publication. Part of this job involves receiving both brickbats and bouquets. In any case, I want readers to feel free to provide feedback about what we’re doing with this venerable community institution, which will begin celebrating its centennial anniversary later this year.
If you hear that the editor of the Jewish World is this or that, in a negative sense, please take it with a grain of kosher salt.
I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you.
— Mordecai Specktor / email@example.com
(American Jewish World, 1.7.11)