Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
I will not review Stephen B. Shepard’s fascinating memoir Deadlines and Disruption: My Turbulent Path from Print to Digital mainly because I do not know enough about journalism or the revolution that has transformed how we receive information since the advent of the digital age to be able to do so. Nevertheless, I recommend Steve’s book not only because he is a friend (I receive no kick-backs for this recommendation – just the pleasure in knowing that some of you might buy this book and gain in wisdom, as did I in having read it), but also because Steve is positioned as few people are in America to reflect authoritatively on what has happened in the past 40 years in print and digital media.
The Editor in-Chief of Business Week Magazine from 1984 to 2004 and the founding Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at City College of New York (CUNY) since 2005, Steve has done and seen it all. He reviews not only some of the top stories during his tenure at Business Week, but reflects intelligently on what is now happening in news and media.
The following are reviews of his book by people who do, in fact, understand Steve’s world, and they speak for themselves:
A Top Editor's Take on the State of Journalism Today and His Prescient Forecast of Its Future
'This is a personal and insightful book about one of the most important questions of our time: how will journalism make the transition to the digital age? Steve Shepard made that leap bravely when he went from being a great magazine editor to the first dean of the City University of New York journalism school. His tale is filled with great lessons for us all.'
'Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs
"This is two compelling books in one: Shepard's story of his life in print journalism, and a clearheaded look at the way journalism is evolving due to electronic media, social networking, and the ability of anyone with a computer and an opinion to make him- or herself heard."
More About The Book - A composite of comments by others
'My personal passage is, in many ways, a microcosm of the larger struggle within the journalism profession to come to terms with the digital reckoning. Will the new technologies enhance journalism . . . or water it down for audiences with diminished attention spans? What new business models will emerge to sustain quality journalism?'
Stephen B. Shepard … helped transform [Business Week Magazine] into one of the most respected voices of its time. But after his departure, he saw it collapse - another victim of the digital age.
In Deadlines and Disruption, Shepard recounts his five decades in journalism - a time of radical transformations in the way news is developed, delivered, and consumed. Raised in the Bronx, Shepard graduated from City College and Columbia, joined Business Week as a reporter, and rose to the top editorial post. He has closed the circle by returning to the university that spawned him, founding the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
In the digital age, anyone can be a journalist. Opinion pieces are replacing original reporting as the coin of the realm. And an entire generation is relying on Facebook friends and Twitter feeds to tell them what to read.
Is this the beginning of an irreversible slide into third-rate journalism? Or the start of a better world of interactive, multimedia journalism? Will the news industry live up to its responsibility to forge a well-informed public?
Shepard tackles all the tough questions facing journalists, the news industry, and, indeed, anyone who understands the importance of a well-informed public in a healthy democracy.
The story of Shepard's career is the story of the news industry - and in Deadlines and Disruption, he provides peerless insight into one of the most critical issues of our time.
12.17.13 at 7:41 am | I applaud Rabbi Jacobs in her response to Dr.. . .
12.16.13 at 8:28 am | Israel's human rights organizations are not. . .
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12.2.13 at 7:19 am | To acknowledge vulnerability is to accept our. . .
12.11.13 at 2:49 pm | Exile is not just about one’s physical. . . (146)
12.17.13 at 7:41 am | I applaud Rabbi Jacobs in her response to Dr.. . . (103)
12.16.13 at 8:28 am | Israel's human rights organizations are not. . . (71)
October 12, 2012 | 6:31 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
One of the most important verses in all of Torah appears in this week’s Torah portion B’reishit: “And God said: Let us make the human being in our image, after our likeness” (Vayomer Elohim, naaseh Adam b’tzalmeinu kidmuteinu…” (Genesis 1:26).
Notice that God seems to be speaking to others, but who?
The Midrash imagines this conversation between God and the only other beings with whom the Divine could possibly be talking - the heavenly host, or angels:
“Rabbi Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be God, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, ‘Let the human be created,’ while others urged, Let the human not be created.’ Thus it is written, ‘Love (Chesed) and Truth (Emet) fought each other, ‘Righteousness’ (Tzedek) and ‘Peace’ (Shalom) combated each other’ (Ps. 85:11). Love said, ‘Let [Adam] be created, because he will dispense acts of love (g’milut chassadim)’; Truth said, ‘Let [Adam] not be created, because he is filled through and through with lies’ (sh'karim); ‘Righteousness’ said, ' Let [Adam] be created, because he will perform righteous deeds’ (tz’dakot); ‘Peace’ said, ‘Let [Adam] not be created, because he is full of strife (k’tatah)"’ … Rabbi Huna the Elder of Sepphoris, said: While the ministering angels were arguing … the Holy One, blessed be God, created [Adam]. Said God: ‘What can you do? The human has already been made!’” (B’reishit Rabbah 8:5)
To review - the angels of “Truth” and “Peace” were against the creation of the human being because they knew that we mortals would lie and fight each other in battles large and small.
The angels of “Love” and “Righteousness” favored our creation because they knew that we would perform deeds of loving-kindness (g’milut chassadim) and acts of righteousness (tzedek).
In the end, God sided with “Love” and “Righteousness” and Adam Harishon (i.e. the First Human) was created.
“Truth” and “Peace” were right, however, because we are prone to lying and fighting, to intolerance of the “other,” hard-heartedness, self-centeredness and small-mindedness. And “Love” and “Righteousness” were also right because we can be compassionate, empathic, generous, humble, and kind.
The story is told that once the Baal Shem Tov summoned Sammael, the Lord of demons, because of some important matter that he wished to command Sammael to do, but Sammael resisted. So the BESHT told his disciples to bare their foreheads to Sammael, and on every forehead, the Lord of demons saw inscribed the sign of the image in which God creates the human being – B’tzelem Elohim.
Sammael was disarmed, and then agreed to do the BESHT’s bidding, but asked humbly and beseechingly before departing, “Oh children of the living God, permit me to stay here just a little longer and gaze upon your foreheads.” (Tales of the Hasidim, Martin Buber, Book 1, p. 77).
I encounter people every day, some with open and kind hearts, and some self-centered and mean-spirited. This story and the verse upon which it is based (Genesis 1:26) remind us who we are and before Whom we stand. When those before me are kind, generous, inclusive, and loving, I see the words B’tzelem Elohim flowing from their every pore. When they are not, still I search for the sign of God on their foreheads, strive to treat them as if those sacred words are apparent, and I imagine what kind of world we would have if we looked for that sign in everyone we meet.
October 11, 2012 | 7:12 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
Mitt Romney's constant rewriting of his history and the story about Lance Armstrong’s massive cheating scandal (see New York Times, “Details of Doping Scheme Paint Armstrong as Leader”) both demonstrate the truth of Mark Twain’s quip: “Of all the animals, man is the only one that lies.”
Of Armstrong, the Times says “…the evidence put forth by the antidoping agency drew a picture of Armstrong as an infamous cheat, a defiant liar and a bully who pushed others to cheat with him so he could succeed...”
Given Romney’s history (recall his bullying of his college classmate and his behavior as the head of Bain Capital in firing thousands of people from their jobs after deceiving them that he had come to save their companies), the statement about Armstrong could just as easily be made about Romney.
Despite some good that both men have done (Armstrong’s cancer research advocacy and Romney’s Massachusetts health care legislation) they both lack character.
A few apt thoughts to ponder:
“If you want to see what a person is made of, see how he behaves in a position of authority.” (Yugoslavian folk saying) “The measure of a person’s character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” (Thomas Macauley)
“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures.” (Horace Greeley)
For us who yearn for heroes to emulate good leadership and good character, a warning:
“Show me the person you honor, and I will know what kind of person you are.” (Thomas Carlyle)
October 7, 2012 | 6:54 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
It isn’t often that the Torah portion of the week and my getting a haircut coincide, but it did last week.
For years Susie Polin has cut my hair. She has a huge heart, is a artist who cuts hair for a living and a Sephardic Jew whose family origins are from Greece.
Last week’s Shabbat Torah portion included Exodus 34:6-7 (for Chol Hamoed Sukkot):
“Adonai, Adonai, El rachum v’chanun, erech apayim, v’rav chesed v’emet: notzeir chesed la-alaphim nose avon vafesha, v’chataah v’nakeh...”
“Adonai! Adonai! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin…”
Susie has lived in the Pico-Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles for many years. Once a Jewish neighborhood, by the time she moved there it was African-American and she was “the only white Jewish girl” in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, she became close to her neighbors, especially the people next door. Five months ago the elderly woman who lived there died leaving her husband Johnny alone. Johnny had worked for many years for the LA Unified School District and had come into contact with asbestos, which sealed his fate.
After his wife died, Susie asked if she could do anything for him as he too was infirm. “Thanks Susie – I’m alright!”
“Do you have enough food in the house,” she asked.
“I’m good every day except Tuesday.”
“You can count on me, Johnny, to bring you dinner each Tuesday,” she generously offered.
So every Tuesday for the past four months Susie brought Johnny dinner that she bought at the local Gelsons take-out stand. When she explained to the Gelsons' workers that she’d be back every week to buy dinner for Johnny, they gave her double the food at the same price, food that lasted Johnny for days.
One day, Johnny asked, “Susie – is ‘Jew’ and ‘Jewish’ the same?”
“Yes!” she said.
Susie explained that to be Jewish means to follow the Bible's commandments and to do deeds of loving-kindness for others. It’s all about love,” she explained, “because God wants us to love each other.”
“I love you, Susie.”
“I love you too, Johnny!”
Johnny died two weeks ago. When the day of his funeral arrived, Susie drove to the black church in South LA and was the first to arrive. She entered the church and sat down. As his family, many friends and care-takers arrived, those who knew her greeted her like a she was a member of their family. Soon everyone heard what Susie had done for Johnny, and that she was a Jew.
When she told me about her experience I was reminded of the famous story in the Midrash (D’varim Rabba 3:3):
“Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach one day commissioned his disciples to buy him a camel from an Arab. When they brought him the animal, they gleefully announced that they had found a precious stone in its collar. ‘Did the seller know of this gem?’ asked the Master. On being answered in the negative, he called out angrily, ‘Do you think me a barbarian that I should take advantage of the letter of the law by which the gem is mine together with the camel? Return the gem to the Arab immediately.’ When the Arab received it back, he exclaimed: ‘Blessed be the God of Shimon ben Shetach! Blessed be the God of Israel.”
I told this story about Susie and Johnny on Friday night to my congregation. There were many children present including our 6th grade Day School students and their Israeli exchange student friends from the Tzahalah Elementary School in north Tel Aviv.
I explained to them that we are all more than just individuals. We are part of a family, a people and a religious tradition, and what we say and do outside our homes and immediate communities not only reflect back on us, but also on our families and the Jewish people.
The way we treat others, whoever they are, Jews, Christians, Muslims, blacks, Latinos, Asians, Palestinians, immigrants, the poor, the powerless, strangers, the people with whom we work, the people who work for us, tells more about who we are and what we value than anything we say we believe.
Susie Polin is a special woman who gives of her heart and soul continually to others. Through her loving deeds the good name of the Jewish people and the God of Israel were enhanced in Johnny’s community, for Susie may have been the only Jew that Johnny and many in his community ever knew up close.
Torah can come to us at any time and in any place, even the barber’s chair.
October 4, 2012 | 7:32 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
In the past year President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have conferred continuously about when Iran’s nuclear bomb program should be “disrupted” by military action should economic and political sanctions not succeed in halting Iran’s march to build a bomb.
They agree that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. They disagree when action should be taken.
PM Netanyahu has urged that the “red line” for attack against Iran's nuclear facilities be when Iran has the capacity to make a nuclear bomb. The United States' “red line” will be crossed when Iran actually decides to make a bomb.
J Street (a pro-Israel pro-peace political and educational organization in Washington, D.C.) has made a video in which Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams explains what it takes to make a bomb and the details of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “red line.”
I urge you to take 3 minutes to watch it.
October 1, 2012 | 5:15 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
As we enter the last weeks of the presidential election campaign I confess to being confounded by the intensity of hatred felt and expressed by many Republicans towards President Obama.
Yes, there are policy differences between Democrats and Republicans.
Yes, people blame (wrongly!) this President for the nation’s economic woes.
Yes, millions actually believe the “Birther” claims that Obama is “foreign,” Muslim and “other.”
And yes, there is racism.
Here is yet another possibility originally noted by H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) more than fifty years ago: “Jealousy of the superior man is a constant corrosive element in society.”
What else except jealousy joined with ignorance, stupidity, fear, anger, bigotry, selfishness, myopic thinking, and God knows what else could account for the depth of animus directed at this President?
Obama, truth to tell, is far more centrist than left. He is not an ideologue. Rather, he is pragmatic and conciliatory as an analysis clearly shows in Sunday’s New York Times of the ways in which The Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obamacare”) is based on conservative values (see “The Conservative Case for Obamacare” by J.D. Kelinke, September 30, 2012, “Sunday Review,” p.4).
After reading the article, no reasonable person can come to any conclusion except that Republican haters of Obama and Obamacare (fed by Republican Senate and Congressional leadership) have gone off the deep end, cannot analyze policy options without a serious overlay of emotional/political bias, could actually care less about policy and are consumed with the need for self-aggrandizement and moral self-justification. Many of these same folks hated Bill Clinton with equal intensity when he was President and, I assume, will spare nothing against Hilary should she toss her hat in the ring for the 2016 presidential race.
What do Obama and Clinton have in common (other than being male and Democratic Presidents) that inspires such hatred?
Mencken put it deftly; “Jealousy of the superior man.”
Though not without their flaws few politicians are as smart, clear-thinking, knowledgeable, thick-skinned, eloquent, skilled, and talented as are Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Their charisma and excellence must drive the Republicans to distraction as they have no one of equal talent in this race or on the horizon!
I pray that the haters don’t succeed in corroding the inner moral character of this country further and are turned back handsomely on November 6 in the presidential race and Congress.