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  • JTA’s President Insults Bloggers, Twitterers — Others Whom JTA’s Asking To Make Them Relevant

    by Steven I. Weiss

    In a new twist on what’s become the near-constant pleading for donations from JTA, President Elisa Spungen Bildner insults producers of new media explicitly:

    Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitterers, and non-professionals. Is this the best way for our future Jewish stories to be told and recorded?

    And insulting new media producers is actually only part of it: just where does Spungen Bildner think that the many local Jewish newspapers fit into this equation? They’re rarely bloggers or twitterers, so I guess the New York Jewish Week, LA Jewish Journal, and New Jersey Jewish News are “non-professionals”? I’ve leveled many a criticism at various print Jewish media purveyors, but calling them “non-professionals” is something we had to wait for Spungen Bildner to do — someone whose JTA organization, by the way, gains a significant chunk of its revenues by charging all of those papers thousands of dollars per year to reprint JTA content. Oh, and of course I failed to include in that list the Forward, whose previous executive editor, Ami Eden, is now JTA’s editor-in-chief, and the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent — whose Editor Lisa Hostein was editor-in-chief of JTA until a year ago.

    And the insult to new media producers is particularly galling at a time when JTA is pleading with bloggers and twitterers to make JTA relevant again with a notice in the most prominent location of its front page declaring:

    SPEAK UP: JOIN JTA’s ONLINE COMMUNITY
    JTA is the definitive, trusted global source of breaking news, investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, opinion and features on current events and issues of interest to the Jewish people. Learn more »

    Register with JTA.org and get involved with our online community! Make your voice heard by commenting on JTA’s articles, use our social news service Kavod to recommend the best online Jewish content, and submit your own original contributions in JBlogs and Readers Report.

    While Spungen Bildner’s disdain for new media producers can perhaps be attributed to the fact that these efforts by JTA to recruit new media producers into making them relevant have thus far failed (as of this writing, the most recent posts to Kavod are 11 days old, and JBlogs seems to produce no noticeable traffic), it’s nonetheless truly galling to see JTA speaking out of both sides of its mouth in this manner.

    Like some old-school Jewish organization raising funds with a list of anti-Semitic activity, JTA is hoping to preserve itself by reaching out to potential donors with a list of the media produced by Jewish youth.

    Instead of making itself relevant enough to Jewish audiences to gain enough advertising and subscription revenue to survive (something that Gawker has achieved in a fraction of the time that the hundred-year-old JTA has been around) JTA is pleading for those who haven’t yet caught on to the changes afoot in today’s media landscape to subsidize them a bit longer. As every other media organization struggling with the transition is looking for ways to embrace new media, pare down and develop new and real revenue streams, JTA is hunkering down, insulting new media and asking for a bailout from moneyed older Jews.

    Does anyone really think JTA is too big to fail?

    April 4, 2009 | Read more Newsdesk posts. 6 Comments »

    Comments

    6 Comments »

    1. [...] Steven Ira Weiss blogs: [...]

      Pingback by JTA Struggles To Survive — April 4, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

    2. Two comments:

      a) I’ve been around to recall the four-page mimeo pages sent around to all the Jewish organizations daily with a larger weekend round-up. I think Lilith’s founder Zucker was involved then. And they charged a fortune while getting subsidised.

      b) is that a real name, Spungen Bilder?

      Comment by Yisrael Medad — April 4, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    3. It seems like the JTA is in the midst of an identity crisis, trying to decide whether to act like an offline paper with an online journalism component or to go more the way of the Huffington Post with a more new media, blog friendly format.

      I actually have tremendous respect for the work the JTA does in general, but this certainly was a gaffe of major proportions at a time when they needed anything but.

      You can see my take on it here: “JTA in Crisis Mode after E-mail Dissing Bloggers.” (Link: http://thenewjew.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/jta-in-crisis-mode-after-e-mail-dissing-bloggers/)

      ~ Maya

      The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy

      Comment by Maya Norton — April 5, 2009 @ 1:37 am

    4. [...] Steven Ira Weiss, a pioneer of the Jewish blogosphere was scathing in his rebuke of the JTA: While Spungen Bildner’s disdain for new media producers can perhaps be attributed to the fact that these efforts by JTA to recruit new media producers into making them relevant have thus far failed (as of this writing, the most recent posts to Kavod are 11 days old, and JBlogs seems to produce no noticeable traffic), it’s nonetheless truly galling to see JTA speaking out of both sides of its mouth in this manner… Like some old-school Jewish organization raising funds with a list of anti-Semitic activity, JTA is hoping to preserve itself by reaching out to potential donors with a list of the media produced by Jewish youth… Instead of making itself relevant enough to Jewish audiences to gain enough advertising and subscription revenue to survive (something that Gawker has achieved in a fraction of the time that the hundred-year-old JTA has been around) JTA is pleading for those who haven’t yet caught on to the changes afoot in today’s media landscape to subsidize them a bit longer. As every other media organization struggling with the transition is looking for ways to embrace new media, pare down and develop new and real revenue streams, JTA is hunkering down, insulting new media and asking for a bailout from moneyed older Jews. [...]

      Pingback by Jewlicious » Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitterers, and non-professionals. — April 5, 2009 @ 5:20 am

    5. Official JTA response http://is.gd/qRBJ

      Comment by Dan Sieradski — April 5, 2009 @ 9:32 am

    6. JTA President Elisa Spungen Bildner responds: http://is.gd/qWxw

      Comment by Dan Sieradski — April 5, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

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