June 6, 2011
Jeffrey Goldberg backflips on Jewish journalism with move to Tablet
Last week, Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg announced his plan to move his eponymous blog, “Goldblog” to the online Jewish magazine, Tablet. This came as a surprise, since during an interview for a profile I wrote of him last fall, he expressed considerable discomfort with the term “Jewish journalist.” He said it was “ghettoizing” and that he didn’t want to be “pigeonholed” and that blogging on Jewish issues from The Atlantic’s general interest platform suited him just fine (see below). “It’s the best of all possible worlds,” Goldberg said.
Well, something changed his mind (or maybe it was Mem Bernstein, the venture philanthropist that funds Nextbook Inc. and affiliates). Because what once seemed parochial and limiting to Goldberg is now being plugged in the most flattering terms: Tablet is “entertaining, stimulating, sophisticated and complicated,” he said in a PR statement posted on Tablet’s Website. But writing on his blog last Friday, he was more honest about his ambivalence: “I don’t make this move lightly,” he wrote.
“I think we’re entering a period of huge disruption in the relationship between America and Israel, and between American Jews and Israelis, and I want to be able to focus on these conflicts in an intensely granular way, inside the Jewish community. Tablet is the most exciting Jewish publication I’ve seen since I worked, in the previous century, at the Seth Lipsky-led Forward, and it is becoming the hub of the worldwide Jewish conversation.”
Judging by the numbers, not exactly. While Tablet boasts a number of highfalutin contributors including New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, the humorist David Rakoff, historian Deborah Lipstadt and others, it has yet to find a large enough audience to catapult its high-quality content into the national conversation.
Based on a one-year web traffic comparison between Tablet and The Forward (where Goldberg got his first journo gig) at compete.com, The Forward consistently outperforms Tablet, sometimes by a margin as wide as 62,000 unique visitors a month and other times, by a narrow 15,000. But at least according to a survey of the past year, the 2009 upstart has never gained the edge. Adding Goldberg’s blog and its devoted following to the Tablet arsenal might help sway the numbers in their favor.
In any event, I’d like to welcome the reluctant Jewish journalist back to Jewish journalism—of the “official” sort.
Jeffrey Goldberg on Jewish Journalism: