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Reporting Jewish – Do Journalists Have the Tools to Succeed?

iEngage is surveying 1,000 journalists at Jewish media in North America, Europe, and Israel on how their experiences reporting about Israel and the Jewish world.

Feelings of disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel have become a major factor in Jewish self-definition. The knowledge and perceptions with which the Jewish world, struggling to understand itself and its relationship to Israel, attempts to address these challenges are in large part formed by the general media, and in no small part the “Jewish media” – which broadly encompasses everything from community Jewish newspapers to Israeli websites, radio programs to blogs, and the emerging and little studied social media.

At the core of all these media are the journalists – trained and untrained, experienced and novice: their daily work informs the Jewish world. Do these emissaries have the skills, knowledge, resources, and desire to increase and deepen understanding of and engagement with the complexities and realities of Israel and the Jewish world? What roles do these journalists see themselves filling in their Jewish communities? Are there pressures and challenges unique to their position within the Jewish world? Do journalists feel their work is understood and appreciated by their audiences?
As part of its goal to create a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life, the iEngage Project at the Shalom Hartman Institute is conducting a study to answer these questions and others by surveying 1,000 journalists at Jewish media in North America, Europe, and Israel. This first of its kind study will address the needs of these journalists, how they relate to their communities, and what kind of training and study they may need to improve their work.
The survey, designed to meet professional and academic standards, will be followed up with fieldwork and interviews with survey respondents. The research will include review and study of academic literature and popular media.
The study is being conducted by Alan D. Abbey , Director of Media and Internet Services at the Shalom Hartman Institute , who has more than 30 years of experience in journalism as a writer, editor, manager, and university lecturer in the U.S. and in Israel. The final report is scheduled to be presented at the Annual Convention of the American Jewish Press Association in June 2013.
Assistance and support for this project is coming from scholars and fellows of the iEngage Project at the Shalom Hartman Institute , the American Jewish Press Association , the Master of Arts in Digital Journalism Program at National University of San Diego, and the Worlds of Journalism research project now being conducted by a consortium of communications and media academics in 80 countries.

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