Baltimore, MD (February 27, 2003) – The role of the Jewish journalist is more complicated than ever, according to professional journalists who spoke to students from across the country at the recent Hillel AJPA Darmstaedter Journalism program at the Spitzer Forum.
Reporters from NBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and other leading media outlets told students that Jewish journalists face unique challenges, whether it is covering Israel objectively, reporting scandals in the Jewish community, or protecting oneself against anti-Semitism.
The students came from a wide variety of schools including Columbia University, the United States Coast Guard Academy, University of Oklahoma and the University of California, Berkeley. Selected according to their journalism experience, Jewish involvement and future plans, their journalism interests included print, photo, television and radio reporting. The program was made possible by the Frank and Claire Darmstaedter Estate through the UJA-Federation of New York and Hillel's partnership with the American Jewish Press Assocation.
At a visit to The Baltimore Sun, students studied Jewish texts and explored the ethics of news reporting with Baltimore Jewish Times Senior Editor Neil Rubin, Rabbi Susan Grossman of Columbia, MD, Sun religion reporter John Rivera, and editor of the Sun Bill Marimow, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.
Students also had dinner with WBAL reporter Deborah Weiner who discussed her experiences as a Jewish female journalist and how she balanced her Jewish identity with her role as a reporter.
In a question-and-answer session with JTA Washington correspondent Matthew Berger and Wall Street Journal Legal Affairs correspondent Robert S. Greenberger, students learned the intricacies of covering world affairs. Greenberger spoke movingly about his former colleague Daniel Pearl who was murdered by Islamic radicals while covering a story in Pakistan.
The journalism program also worked with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to expose students to coverage of the Holocaust and genocide. Students met with Jerry Fowler, staff director of the museum's Committee on Conscience, where they discussed the lessons of the Holocaust. The following day the students took a trip to the museum and met with a survivor.
Washington Jewish Week editor Debra Rubin and JTA editor Lisa Hostein discussed the profession of Jewish journalism with the students. "Through this conference I learned that there is a field called Jewish journalism which I am interested in pursuing," said University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill student Adam Geller. "I also plan on contributing my writings to the local Jewish paper."
"The student journalism program fulfills Hillel's mission to engage Jewish students according to their interests and to provide them with meaningful opportunities to explore their Jewishness," explained Hillel Director of Communications Jeff Rubin. "This program not only helps the students to develop as journalists, it helps them to grow as Jews."