Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Burying bad news is no answer"

AJN Editorial (July 31, 2009)
Burying bad news is no answer

NEWS that rabbis were among 44 individuals arrested in the United States on charges of political corruption, money-laundering and even trafficking in human organs triggered some reflection at The AJN on how to cover the story. Closer to home, the imminent committal hearing in Adelaide of Rabbi Yossi Engel, facing charges over a school-funding application, focuses attention on our role as a newspaper for the Jewish community.
When Rabbi Engel was charged last month, our front cover drew criticism from those who believe the role of a Jewish newspaper is to run public relations for the community to the wider Australian community and beyond. They believe we should turn a blind eye to Jewish figures, and rabbis in particular, who are facing court, or who have been convicted, even while mainstream newspapers freely report these events. We disagree. SNIP
Yet to ask Jewish newspapers to censor themselves is no remedy. It might keep negative news away from the newsagent shelves, but what we would lose in the process is far greater. It is akin to expecting Jewish figures to be given a free pass. Burying bad news does our community no favours. It would create an unhealthy culture, encouraging some to do as they wish, free of public scrutiny. It is not how newspapers in a democracy should conduct themselves.
We, like many others who follow happenings in the Jewish media, have been wondering when the Jewish News' website - and in particluar its soon to be departed/deported editor Ashley Browne on his blog - will give us the full details of his sudden untimely demise. But until the time of writing, there has not been a single word about this on either location.

Does this mean that sometimes "burying bad news" IS the answer?

The answer is obviously "Yes". When the bad news is about AJN staff, publishers or their families - the Jewish News certainly believes in burying it.

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