Tricky Tools Of The Trade

This opinion piece was first published as “Tweets of Times’s New Jerusalem Bureau Chief” on the Forward Thinking blog at the Forward.

Judi Rudoren

Stop tweeting!

That was the loud-and-clear message from Tablet’s Marc Tracy, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner, and others to the New York Time’s Jodi Rudoren this week. They were all admonishing the newly appointed NYT Jerusalem bureau chief for over-sharing on Twitter. We are all, on occasion, guilty of this behavior, they admitted. But according toGoldberg, this is not the time for Rudoren to be “schmooz[ing] up Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian activist who argues for Israel’s destruction…prais[ing] Peter Beinart’s upcoming book as, ‘terrific: provocative, readable, full of reporting and reflection’…and link[ing] without comment to an article in a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper.”

Tracy’s statement that “the most charitable reading says Rudoren possesses an astounding lack of sense of the profile of the post to which she has been appointed” made me think of two things that former NYT Jerusalem bureau chief David K. Shipler told me over the years. Shipler is a distant cousin by marriage on my mother’s side, and I got to know him and his family well just as they were returning from Israel to Washington, D.C. and I was beginning college there.

Way back in the late 1980’s as I was writing for my campus paper and contemplating a career in journalism (which I didn’t actually get around to pursuing until some 20 years later), Shipler told me that the most important thing about being a journalist was to really know your subject. Not a big proponent of J school (at least as I remember him telling me at the time), he said it all came down to whether you could or could not write. But you’d sure as hell not write a single word if you didn’t know what you were talking about, he warned me.

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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