Earlier this week, Debra Rubin, the long-time editor of The Washington Jewish Week, was let go from her position when the paper changed business hands from Florida-based HarborPoint Media to local businessmen with considerable ties to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Sources suggest that she may have lost her job due to negative coverage she gave J-Fed.
As a former journalism student, this story is both fascinating and wearying to me. According to a December 2009 blog entry by eJewish Philanthropy, about half of the Jewish papers affiliated with the American Jewish Press Association are Federation-owned. This begs the question…are these newspapers doing the honest work of journalism, that is, telling stories from the outside, without one particular bias, trying to get at “the truth”? Or are they just sounding boards for the folks in charge?
Let me just cover my bases and say that I love J-Fed–I’ve even been a donor myself, though certainly not a macher. 😛 And this blog is certainly not a “real” journalism enterprise. I rarely say anything negative about the events I review, and this post contains the most outside research I’ve done in a long time. But when the new owners make a statement such as making the paper “a tool for increasing the number of people involved in the Jewish community,” according to this Forward blog, which covers WJW’s recent news in more detail, I have to wonder personally if that is more a job that should be filled directly by the Federation, rather than by an independent media source.
I am excited for this alleged new focus on the local community–I do love news pertaining to Jewish DC! But in the meantime, I wish Debra Rubin a fond farewell and best wishes for the future. I’ve always been a fan of WJW under her editorial direction.