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January 15, 2015

More on The New York Times and Haredi Photoshop

photoshopped leaders.jpg

Yesterday we discussed Jodi Rudoren's article about a Haredi Jewish newspaper that photoshopped, awkwardly and with potential to offend, images of women from a photo of world leaders in Paris. Our blog post focused mostly on how Rudoren's piece fit into a well-established pattern at the New York Times of obsessing over Israeli-Jewish flaws, real and imagined, in a way glaringly disproportionate to how the newspaper deals with most other groups (even Americans).

Last night, Rudoren posted an update on her Facebook page, which reaches only a small fraction of her New York Times readership. The update included noteworthy information that contradicts some of the allegations in the original story, and also prompted a discussion in which some interesting points were raised, including by professors of journalism.

First, the noteworthy added information: The Times published the piece before it was able to get comment from anyone at the Israeli newspaper—and readers lost out. Although Rudoren's article charged the Israeli paper with "denying the fact that in the wider world, beyond the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the world stage and shape events" and with "tr[ying] to make it appear as though no women had been there to begin with," that newspaper's editor later told The Times that, in fact, his front-page story about the Paris march "listed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany among those who led it." Is that, to Western sensibilities, exculpatory? Maybe not. Is it relevant to the discussion? Definitely. But missing from The New York Times story.

Now to some of the comments left on Rudoren's Facebook page:

Journalist and journalism professor David Greenberg raised the question of whether the behavior scrutinized in Rudoren's article is any different than policy about not showing images of Mohammed imposed by New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet:

Jodi, The editor's argument is that running a woman's image would offend his audience's religious beliefs. Isn't this the exact same argument as Dean Baquet's for not running Muhammad's image? (I'm not asking you to defend his policy!)

To which another Facebook user replied:

Yes, David. It is the same idea except that he is not doing it because it would offend his non-readers, he is doing it to avoid offending his readers so that they will buy the newspaper. And his readers are not telling the NYTimes or anyone else that they may not publish the photos. So it really isn't the same thing at all.

Rudoren argued that the difference between her employer and the religious newspaper is that The Times chooses not to publish images of Mohammed, while the newspaper she wrote about published the photo but surreptitiously edited it. Greenberg agreed, but added that "both editors are wrongly catering to religious sensitivities at the expense of important news."

Another professor of journalism, Ira Rifkin, raised doubts about the newsworthiness of Rudoren's piece:

Move along, move along. Nothing NEW going on here. Why is this even a story -- again? Removing women from photos in Haredi publications is so common place that it should have ceased to be news long ago. This is what it's readership wants and expects. Just because it seems sexist and dishonest to non-Haredi readers does not make it a story worth repeating time and again.

A CAMERA researcher asked Rudoren about her views on the the story and her update:

Two questions I hope you might be able to answer, Jodi.

First, do you think your Facebook post, which of course doesn't have nearly the same circulation as your initial article, is good enough?

Here's what I mean: In a piece that refers to the photoshopping largely in terms of prompting "snickers" and "satire," of being a "sin," of causing "embarass[ment]" (twice), and of amounting to "religious extremism" that's analogous even to murder, was your one cryptic quote by a haredi woman at the end enough? If you couldn't immediately get in touch with anyone at HaMevaser, should you have waited a day?

Because honestly, the information you share above — that their the front page story in fact noted that Angela Merkel led the march — seems to be not only an important counterpoint to Sommer's charge that the newspaper is " denying…women…stand on the world stage" and your charge that they "tried to make it appear as though no women had been there to begin with," but an essential counterpoint.

Second, can you help me understand why (and correct me if I'm wrong) your newspaper didn't cover Ikea's removal of all women from the Saudi version of its catalog? Ikea, a huge, hip multi-billion-dollar organization, is no less important than this small newspaper serving a small population, is it? Do you accept the "Jews are news" axiom as a legitimate excuse to disproportionately focus on Jews—most often, (Israeli) Jews behaving strangely or (Israeli) Jews behaving badly—relative to Ikea or Saudis or Jordanians or Palestinians? Or is it an axiom that describes a problem, one that should be fixed?

Posted by GI at January 15, 2015 11:47 AM


This is excellent, we need more of this type of feedback for all the media who keeps on beating on Israel and uses the media as a mouth piece of the Obama administration.

We need to give all media feedback and the administration about their demonetization of everything Jewish and Israeli, while using selective reporting when it comes to discussing Islam and the Arab world.

Additionally, it seems that the Obama administration is discouraging any anti jihad writing and has changed the rules of the game. it seems that all references to Islamist terror is 'cleansed' in all the administration manuals dealing with terror.

I wonder if Obama has a hidden agenda about how we deal with this issue it would be interesting to investigate his relationship with free speech.

Posted by: Eve A. Goodmon at January 15, 2015 08:53 PM

Is anybody still surprised that the Times appoints Jerusalem bureau chiefs who will salute and march in line with the Times' Israel-bashing policy? The former ones were just as bad.

Posted by: Giborah at January 22, 2015 07:57 PM

We all know all about the NY Times and its unfairness. But frankly the Haredi are an infinitely greater danger to Israel than the enmity and unfairness of the Times. The Haredi are a cancer within Israel, politically, economically, and culturally. Many are downright disloyal for "religious reasons". The newspaper photo incident is mild compared to their parasitic draining of Israel's economy while refusing to work, pay taxes, get educated, serve in the Armed Forces, etc. Who does more harm to Israel..the Haredi or the NY Times in real, effective terms?

Posted by: Elliot J. Stamler at January 22, 2015 08:37 PM

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