Benyamin Cohen (born
April 22, 1975) works in Georgia's biggest city.
He's been Orthodox all his life.
He edited Jewsweek.com for four
years (it debuted May 1, 2001 and Cohen left in 2005) and oversaw JewishContent.com.
Cohen edits Atlanta Jewish Life
magazine (six issues a year).
Here are some links about Cohen from his wikipedia entry:
From Cohen's bio on on
the AJL website:
A native Atlantan, Cohen attended Georgia State University where he
majored in print journalism and minored in religion. In 1994, that educational
background led him to create Torah from Dixie, a weekly publication
circulated to synagogues across the country. In 1997, he published a
300-page book by the same name. Cohen went to work for the Atlanta Jewish
Times where he was a writer as well as the editor of their Arts and
Entertainment section. After that he became Special Sections Editor
for the Fulton County Daily Report. And in January 2004, he became editor
of Atlanta Jewish Life magazine.
Cohen, who admits to not sleeping much, channeled his creative energies
to create Jewsweek magazine (www.jewsweek.com) in his spare time. During
his four years as editor (he left Jewsweek in April 2005), the pop culture
Webzine attracted more than 50,000 visitors a month and was regarded
as the foremost national publication for its demographic (20-40 year
olds). Cohen, who is often asked to join panel discussions on Gen X
Jews in America, is currently authoring a book chronicling his religious
road trip through Bible Belt churches.
Cohen, a rabbi's son, married a minister's daughter in January 2004
in a kosher wedding catered by, of all places, The Varsity. They live
near Emory University with their two dogs, Aydah and Tivo.
We speak Friday morning, July 9, 2004. He's having a bad day. His car
won't start. His computer won't work. And his air conditioning is broken.
"I come from a family of Modern Orthodox rabbis. I'm the only non-rabbi.
My family sees what I'm doing as promoting the Jewish cause, only in a
Benyamin's father, Rabbi Herbert Cohen, (has semicha from YU, and a PhD
in British Literature and was the principal of the Yeshiva High School
of Atlanta for almost 30 years) lives in Denver and his mother died of
a brain aneurysm when he was 13.
Benyamin went to Jewish day schools until college (Georgia State). "I
went to YU for one semester but I can't stand New York or YU. What do
I not have against YU? It's too much of a clustered environment. It's
too much of a Jewish good ol' boys network."
"Why do you put so many pictures of shiksas on Jewsweek.com?"
"My philosophy on Jewish journalism is that most Jewish journalism
sucks. It turns assimilated Jews away from Judaism because all it talks
about are boring things such as Federation politics. My goal is to get
people jazzed about Judaism. I feel that putting Madonna in every issue
and doing irreverent things like that is a way to get people interested
Jewsweek comes out about 40 times a year. "The biggest obstacle
we face, obviously, is a financial one. We're working on a shoestring
budget with few resources to pay writers. Most everybody is doing stuff
on a volunteer basis. If one of your star writers is busy paying his rent
with his day job, it's hard to ask him to spend time on putting a compelling
"The other challenge is getting mainstream acceptance. Mainstream
institutional Judaism has yet to come to terms with the next generation."
"They're not stepping up to the plate to sponsor the site?"
"Not only that, they're not even recognizing it as a viable resource.
They scoff at it. They laugh at it."
"You've gotten a fair amount of media attention over it," I
"Yes and no. Not compared to Heeb. While we have published about
125 issues in three years and gotten three or four press mentions, they've
published five issues and received triple the amount of press attention,
which boggles my mind."
"Who are your Jewish journalist heroes?" I ask.
"Jonathan Friendly. He worked for Jewish Renaissance Media, which
owns the Detroit Jewish News and the Atlanta Jewish Times (AJT). He was
one of my editors and mentors at the AJT, where I worked for a year. He
used to work at The New York Times. Neil Rubin, now the editor of the
Baltimore Jewish Times. He was one of the first people to show me that
Jewish journalism can be exciting. The third is not even Jewish, Vincent
Coppola, a Roman Catholic and managing editor of AJT when I was there.
He used to be an editor at Newsweek. He now writes freelance for such
national magazines as Esquire.
"We had six editors at the AJT during my year. It's a horrible place
to work. It's low paying and you're not appreciated and journalism does
not take a front seat. There's no leadership. Nobody stays for more than
a year or two.
"I find non-Jewish magazines much more compelling than Jewish publications."
"Do you read the Jewish Journal?" I ask.
"Online. The only thing that is different about them is that they
have the occasionally interesting celebrity profile because they are in
LA. Aside from that, I don't see anything exciting about it."
"I think they skew younger because they have younger writers,"
"Yeah, but it is hard to find the good nuggets when it is muddled
by all the other stuff."
"Why isn't there more compelling Jewish journalism?" I ask.
"Lack of creativity and funding. Lack of creativity by those who
do have money. There are plenty of people like myself and the guy who
does Jewschool.com who are doing great blogs who are in their 20s who
are not given the resources to make their projects grow."
"I want more reasons for why it is so dull," I say.
"They've been following the same formula for years. No other niche
market does that. You take a look at any popular magazine, it evolves
over time. You have to stay on the edge or people are going to find you
irrelevant. The younger generation of Jewish readers don't care about
what is going on in Israel or which philanthropist gave their money to
which cause or most of the stuff these Jewish weeklies are reporting on."
"Many of the journalists for the Jewish weeklies tell me that people
read a Jewish newspaper for a different reason than they read their primary
newspaper," I say. "It's to reaffirm their Jewish identity and
their belief that Israel is right."
"That's a horrible reason to read a Jewish newspaper. If they have
a brain, they should be able to do that by reading a regular newspaper.
That's a lazy way to be Jewish. People should read Jewish newspapers to
find out information that they are not getting elsewhere. There's so much
Jewish news to report out there. If they're only going to report the bomb
in Israel this week with a sympathetic view towards the Jewish people,
that's horrible journalism and lazy Judaism."
"Tell me about JewishContent.com," I say.
"Most Jewish weeklies don't have enough staff. My editor at the
AJT would tell me to go on the Internet and find some content to fill
the paper. We only had three staff writers. I thought, wouldn't it be
great if there was an online store where I could just buy content. It's
taken me five years to take that idea to fruition with the help of Jewsweek
publisher Reuven Koret. The JTA service is archaic. Eventually, I think,
people will move over to our system."
"What's the most controversial thing you've done at Jewsweek?"
"When we were first started, I wanted to get a name for ourselves,
so I published a list of the 50 Most Influential Jews in America. In additional
to the usual suspects, I put people influential in their own towns."
"Let's say you walked into a prominent Jewish institution and you
saw a prominent Jewish leader diddling someone who was not his wife, how
would you handle it?" I ask. "Would you think, this is not good
for the Jews?"
"No, I'd write the story. Why wouldn't I?"
"Because your father would give you hell for it," I say.
"My father would give me hell for 100 other things before he gave
me hell for that. I don't think before every decision, what's my family
going to think. My family is proud of Jewsweek. Is it something they would
produce? Probably half of it is. That's the beauty of Modern Orthodoxy.
You can see the value in things, even if you don't agree with them."
"Do you often think before publishing a story, is this good for
the Jews?" I ask.
"Not at all."
"Is that more of a generational question?" I ask.
Benyamin married a hottie
named Elizabeth in January.
The most interesting part of my interaction with Benyamin came after
our interview. We exchanged a contentious series of emails on Sunday,
July 11, 2004.
Only after Benyamin decided to take this public (he told me that he'd
emailed all Jewish newspaper editors, warning them about me), did I decide
to take this dispute public.
Benyamin wrote the editors in the AJPA
(American Jewish Press Association), and I only saw this hours later
when it showed up on Fiddish (Steven Weiss's now defunct blog on Forward.com):
To all editors,
If you have not already, you will probably be contacted soon by a
guy named Luke Ford, a writer from Los Angeles. He is currently writing
a book about Jewish journalism and is asking for interviews with several
Like some of you, I agreed to be interviewed by him. In a transcript
he showed me of our conversation, he ended up taking my words out of
context and later started acting very discourteous and unprofessional.
Besides this Jewish journalism project, he's been involved in some
shady projects in the past (some pornographic, some evenagelical, etc.)
I would highly reccomend to anyone who has yet to speak with him to
NOT DO SO. You may come, like I have, to regret it later.
All the best, Benyamin Cohen
One. I've read Jewsweek.com on and off since it launched in 2001. I may
go a couple of months without reading it or I may check it every week.
I think it has some good articles and is a positive contribution to Jewish
journalism, the Jewish people, and Judaism.
Two. I've found that a large number of people I interview suffer from
the misapprehension that I seek their good graces, approval and friendship.
That is way down on my list of priorities. I am seeking to do my job.
Any friendships I develop while working do not come at the expense of
In general, I've found that a large number of people, within or without
the world of writing, feel obliged to tell me, without my soliciting their
opinion, what I should do with my writing. When this comes from people
who are more accomplished than me, I usually welcome the advice. Otherwise,
I usually don't.
An example. Hollywood producer Jeff
Wald phones 9/6/02 at 5:30 PM.
"You think it's funny with Medavoy's
letter and Anita
Busch? You're playing with the wrong people. I want my whole thing
down. I want nothing to do with you. I'm fat with a pot belly? Who the
fuck do you think you are? I can make you not fucking breathe. Everyone
else will be polite and send you a letter like Medavoy did. I'll stop
you from breathing. Do you understand me? You can put that up there
and quote it. I'm just telling you something right now. We will crush
you with fucking lawyers. And that will just be the fun part. That will
be the part of your day that you fucking enjoy when you run out of fucking
money. Now take it the fuck done. You came in here under false pretenses.
Take the whole fucking thing down. And you've got that shitty thing
on Anita Busch up there. What the fuck is the matter with you? Do you
want to win friends here and get any kind of cooperation? I'll put your
name all over this fucking place. I'll send out emails to everyone in
this fucking town and nobody will take your fucking calls when I'm finished.
I'm just telling you something. You're fucking with the wrong guy here.
You put up all the times I've been arrested. They were for assault pal."
Luke: "I sent you most everything I wrote about you."
Jeff: "I got it. I don't like it. You twisted things. You got things
wrong. I'm just telling you I want it down. I want nothing to do with
you. Don't write about me. I will sue the shit out of you. I don't give
a fuck if I lose. I'll just re-sue you. You can't afford the lawsuits.
I'll fucking hire a lawyer full-time right out of fucking law school
whose job will be nothing but to file depositions and shit on you and
make you defend yourself. I'll break you."
This brings up to Benyamin Cohen. Who do you think has been the most
difficult person for me to talk to in Jewish journalism? Gary Rosenblatt,
editor of The Jewish Week? Rob Eshman, the editor of the Jewish Journal?
Nope. Benyamin Cohen. He's a busy man. Once we had to reschedule an interview
because he was overwhelmed with other obligations. Another time, we had
to reschedule because I forgot to call when I said I would.
Benyamin and I finally did our interview Friday morning. Saturday night
I sent him a transcript of what I wanted to use. I did not seek his permission
to publish it, nor did I promise I would accommodate all of his requests
I am under no journalistic obligation to give Ben or anyone a transcript
of our interview. Not only is this not journalistic practice, it is the
opposite of journalistic practice. Occasionally, to get an interview,
I will promise a subject that he can approve any of his quotes. I do this
only when I have to and I did not give any such assurance to Ben before
our interview. Instead, before saying goodbye, I said I'd send him a transcript
before I published it.
I did. He replied with this document
Almost everyone I interview welcomes the opportunity to amend things
they've said. I usually go along with their changes, but not always. In
fact, I can't think of anybody where I've accepted every change he's requested.
Until Benyamin Cohen, everybody I've interviewed has understood that it
is up to me to accept or reject requested changes.
I started to run into problems with Ben before 8 a.m. Sunday, July 11.
I asked him for contact info for his friend Vincent Coppola. He replied,
Because I want to ask him out on a date.
Why? Obviously because I want to interview him for my book on Jewish
Ben replied: "yeah ... but he's not a Jewish journalist. And he
only worked at a Jewish paper for a year."
Ben, I don't tell you how to run Jewsweek. Don't tell me who I should
or should not interview for my book.
I get this all the time and I'm sick of it. If you don't want to give
me his email, why don't you email him and ask if he'd be willing to
talk to me. He could be a black lesbian Buddhist for all I care, so
long as he has worked in journalism on jewish topics. That he is not
Jewish makes him all the more interesting to me, sheesh, why do I have
to explain something so elementary.
Luke, Relax, man. I just wasn't sure you if you knew that he wasn't
Jewish. that's all. truth be told, in my opinion, he knows more about
Jewish journalism than most Jews do. his email address is ------. Just
tell him you interviewed me and I gave you his name.
Ben sent me about a dozen more emails when I did not go along with every
one of his requested changes to his transcript. I agreed to most of them
but I wouldn't change the word "sucks" to "stinks."
I emailed Ben that I preferred "sucks." It was more pungent.
He replied: "I would prefer it to the other way please."
I replied: "Nope."
He replied: "huh?"
I replied: "I am not making the change you requested."
He replied: "Luke, I don't think that's appropriate. I'm asking
you again to make that change. If you do not, I will have to ask you to
delete my interview completely."
When was the last time you sent a subject a transcript of an interview
before you published their quotes? That is a rare privilege that I extended
to you. It does not mean that I am going to accept every single change
you wanted. I went along with 90% of what you requested.
That is the way I've always done it. People frequently want to soften
the pungent things they say. Sometimes I accept their requests and sometimes
I do not. It is my choice as publisher as it is your choice when you
You said the word "sucks." I prefer it to "stinks." That word and the
interview stands, whether you like it or not. You can ask all you want.
It is staying up. If there are other changes you want, I will consider
Because we are going to fight over this matter, does not mean that
I am not happy to help you in any way I can now or in the future. But
I am not always going to do what you ask. I am not your servant.
This is elementary journalism. It is not the right of an interview
subject to demand changes to words he said on the record in an interview.
Before we did the interview, I did not say, "I guarantee you that you
can make all the changes to the transcript of this interview before
it sees print and that you can completely shape whatever coverage I
give to you in my writing" or any such thing. That is absurd. Why on
earth would you think I'd give you such a thing? Do you give that to
people you write about? Do you always let your subjects vet their words
before they appear in your publication?
This is an interesting journalism discussion. I'd be curious what your
friends in the field feel on this matter, if you cared to discuss it
I appreciated your forthright interview. I like your publication and
will be glad to help you where I can. I appreciated your referral to
Vincent. We will speak later today.
That I appreciate your help does not mean I will accede to your every
request. Why would you expect that? Do people always do what you ask?
Before I agreed to the interview with you, I asked Andrew
Silow-Caroll if he thought it was a good idea. he said it's fine
since Luke will let you read the transcript and change things if you
I guess I was under that false impression.
As you know, friday morning was not the best time for me to conduct
an interview -- my computer had crashed, my car wouldn't start, and
my air conditioning was broken. I raraely, if ever, use words lie "suck"
(ask my friends, it's not in my character).
You caught me at an extremely perturbed time and I think now you're
taking advantage of it.
Look, it's your site and you can post whatever you want. I just think
a) you're doing a terrible disservice to your readers by showing them
a Benyamin Cohen that doesn't really exist
b) as such, you're losing credibility in my eyes
If the wording doesn't change, I will not be able to help you any further
with any project you may be working on and I will dissuade my colleagues
from helping either.
I give you complete freedom to share this dispute with anyone. I'd
be curious for the reactions of disinterested parties.
I admire your work and from what I know of it, I admire the life you
lead. You're a good guy.
That said, with every good quality comes a mirrored bad quality. I
don't think we're really fighting over the word "sucks." Along with
your courage and independence and vision and self-made thing comes this
unpleasant bullying and control-freak quality. If I am the first person
to point this out to you, then disregard it. If I am not, then maybe
it is something for you to think about.
I am open to being wrong about this and changing the word down the
line if people I respect such as Andy tell me to, but I really think
this is all about you needing to have 100% control over this interview,
and your needing to boss others around.
That you would throw a fit over this one word (want your interview
taken down if you are not accommodated, you will do other things to
discourage people from talking to me etc) reveals something very disturbing
about you. But ask your wife or people you respect. Let us leave our
egos out of this dispute and, if you want, get feedback from others.
I'd be happy to publish an open letter from you to readers of your
interview (at the bottom of your interview). You can say you did the
interview under false assumptions, that the image of you presented in
the interview is false, you don't use the word sucks normally, and that
you discourage anybody else in the field from talking to me because
I am...whatever you want to say. I won't edit it one word.
Calling me a control freak is way out of line. You don't know me and
you've never met me. We've only spoke for 30 minutes. To pass such psychological
judgments is irresponsible and rude on your part.
Unfortunately, I don't think we can reach an amicable conclusion about
this. I will now be forced to tell others not to talk with you -- including
Vince later today.
I am the moderator of the AJPA listserv and I will be sending out an
e-mail to all the editors later today to tell them of my unprofessional
and discourteous experience with you.
I replied: "Go for it."
He replied: "FYI, I have told Vince not to speak with you. As well,
I have sent out an e-mail to all the Jewish newspaper editors advising
them not to talk with you."
I replied: "May I have a copy of the letter you sent out about me?"
He replied: "Nope."
I replied: "You're such a brave man."
He replied: "C'mon... why would I give you that kind of professional
courtesy when you treat me the way you did?"
I replied: "Ask the opinion of others. Obviously we're too involved
in this dispute."
He replied: "Look, I have more important things to deal with this
then this dispute between you and me."
I replied: "If so, why have you sent me so many  emails about
it? Why did you go to such bother over it to email all editors etc? Just
He replied: "As moderator of the AJPA listserv, I only have to hit
one button for it to go to all the editors. I took the time to write them
the letter because I thought it was important for them to know how unprofessional
and discourteous you are to your interview subjects."
I replied: "That sucks."
And that's where we left it.
An editor and publisher of a major Jewish newspaper emailed me an hour
later: "Luke: It has been suggested by one of my colleagues that
I should not speak to you. I'm sorry but I must take that advice."
A day later, this editor changed his mind.
RJA writes: "Poor Benyamin; he assumed that Luke, aka Levi Abraham,
was a journalistic push-over. He figured, how tough can an interview be
with a man (a convert no less) who spent six years interviewing porn sluts
about Kierkegaard and bukakke. Mistake number one. Then he figures that
using bully-boy tactics will get the blog world to turn against Luke.
That was mistake number two. Little does Bennie know but that Luke is
the master of the blogosphere; Luke eats guys like Bennie for breakfast.
There is no way for Bennie to come out of this looking other than a neb.
As they say in the hood: this is Luke's playground."
Writer writes to Luke on Protocols:
Cohen's right and you are a pathetic putz. One of the signs of a Jew
is being compassionate, Luke. Or did you skip that lesson? This incident
has nothing to do with journalism and EVERYTHING to do with character.
Yes, Cohen is self-important. Yes, if you have access to his Nielsen
rankings you will see few people actually read Jewsweek --- leading
one to question why Cohen is so self-important. But the bottom line
is that he came off as gracious at the start and you came off as a smuck.
(At one point he seems to be begging and you were no doubt smirking.
Who is the control freak, Luke?) As your little debate continued, I
was certain that you were just joshin' him. But you ultimately look
more pathetic than him. The dude gave you a half-hour of his time for
a book that, based on your other bestsellers, few will ever read. And
you repay him by trying to dirty a reputation that he still doesn't
Me writes Protocols:
In March 2004, Benyamin Cohen put out an issue of Jewsweek with a cover
story about self-confessed (on Geraldo and in court) and convicted child
molester Jesse Friedman. Originally the opening to the article was:
"An alleged child molester went to jail and his story to the silver
After I contacted him and pointed out that once an alleged child molester
has confessed, been convicted and sent to prison the term "alleged"
is no longer acurate or true. He changed it (only in the story) to:
"An convicted child molester went to jail and his story to the
Despite this he would not change (did not answer my emails on this
either) the cover graphic of the issue which remained:
"An alleged child molester went to jail and his story to the silver
His (lack of) committment to one of the basic tenants of journalism,
accuracy, was fairly evident from this (his lack of committment to balance
and truth was already evident from the content of the article). And
he has the nerve to ask someone to make him look better by changing
the word he actually said: "sucks" to "stinks."
I guess what comes around goes around, Benny boy. See newer version
A guy like Benny who won't fix the cover of his rag from "alleged"
to "convicted" when he knows he's wrong (he even changed it in the story!
Look how poorly it even reads! "A convicted child molester went to jail")
has no business complaining in a situation like this, particularly when
he was properly quoted.
"My philosophy on Jewish journalism is that most Jewish journalism
I agree. I would also include Benyamin Cohen's journalism and commitment
to it certainly within the definition of the word "suck". This week
we got a double dose of Rabbi Boteaach, next week maybe we'll get a
triple dose. It doesn't just "suck," it also "blows."
Joe Schick writes Protocols:
"If it was that important to him you should've just changed it. He
was out of line in telling others not to speak with you, though. So you
both come across pretty badly."
Luke replies: "I don't just change things because they are important
to someone to preserve his image. I have higher obligations to my craft,
to capture people as they are, not just as how they would like to think
You got into a huge argument about use of the word "sucks"? That sucks.
BTW, if you circulate this e-mail, please change the above-mentioned
word to "stinks."
My first reaction was "this guy sounds like a nut."
My second reaction was, "whether you are right or wrong depends at
least in part on the custom among folks who do interviews and the reasonable
expectations of those being interviewed." I have never been interviewed,
nor do I intend to be. But I strongly suspect that he, not you, was
out of line.
Chaim Amalek writes:
Luke, you know what a whiny, spoiled, and preening bunch Jews are.
So why did you let yourself get derailed over something as minor as
changing "sucks" to "stinks"? I mean, it's not as though you had him
on tape admitting to using a Lulav to anally pleasure the Satmar Rebbe,
and he wanted to change that to a discussion of world economics. You
need to think like a Jew -- and we are a nebbishy, physically timid
lot who are reduced to fighting with lawyers and tongues and emails.
You came on too strong, and I think I while I would not have made a
stink over stinks, I might have told you to go f--- off. Off the record,
Robert writes: "What a temperamental putz! Time to resurrect lukeford.net's
Jew of the Month" award. Got
a picture of this loser? I'll do it."
Mac the Knife writes:
Dunno what all the fuss is about with Mr. Jewsweek? Is it really worth
it? Just wondering why the need to even keep his thing up in general,
if it's annoying him so much to be associated with you. Obviously he's
trying to make money with his thing so self-conscious about how he's
portrayed, just being sensitive to what's making him huffy. It sounds
to me like he's trying hard to make a run at monetary things with his
websites so doesn't want anything online that'll inhibit that from happening.
He's too unestablished to be confident in his mouthiness, but fine if
he's a hothead. I've never seen a "professional jew" that isn't. He's
reliant on these staid foundations etc. to make his money even if he
himself says what they do sucks/stinks. You can't say that anything
is negative to make it in that realm. You can't take an ortho vs. non-ortho
p.o.v. Everything wishy-washy and namby-pamby. He's no different, just
because he's connected to "blogging."
I. Weiss writes on the Forward.com:
If true, this story about lack of transparency with Luke Ford in his
quest to interview Jewish journalists is pathetic. I haven't asked Benyamin
Cohen for confirmation of this story, and I'm not sure I care; whether
or not one specific Jewish journalist was a complete fool in dealing
with Luke is immaterial, because so many others have been.
I can't tell you how many Jewish journalists contacted me to ask me
about Luke Ford's interviewing them, primarily because those conversations
were privileged. But the fact that they did strikes me as profoundly
disturbing relative to their potential to legitimately carry Jewish
journalism forward. When I call up some random rabbi to ask for an opinion
on a given matter, I'm asking for transparency. If that random rabbi
can't call on me to do the same, there's an imbalance in credibility,
and it leans to the rabbi. What then happens is that Jewish journalism
stops fulfilling any decent purpose, because its credibility is less
than the sources it seeks to use. Lack of transparency in journalism
brings the endeavor to its knees. The equation's simple: every time
I get no response from a source, they lose credibility. Journalists
are sources, and should be held to the same standard.
What pisses me off the most about this is that this ostensible tussle
between Benyamin and Luke is between two people who are supposed to
be providing a fresh new voice to our medium, and this kind of idiocy
will tear it apart. There are a few people right now who have the ability
to take the responsibility for the future of Jewish journalism upon
their shoulders and carry it forward towards something relevant, dynamic,
and worthy; Benyamin and Luke are two such people.
Luke writes to Fiddish: "I have everything Benyamin said [in our
phone interview] on tape. I have all his emails. His page of corrections
that I posted on my site showed no complaints about my alleged discourtesy
and taking him out of context. The whole dispute arose out of my refusal
to change his comment that Jewish journalism "sucks" to "stinks." The
guy didn't have the courage to ask third parties to mediate the dispute
nor would he show me the email he sent out to the AJPA. A true profile
Steven Weiss replies: "Luke - We've all got courage in different
ways. You could show yours by acknowledging that Benyamin's behavior here
is rather anomalous relative to his great body of work that has advanced
Jewish journalism, and helping to work this out so that your goals are
again aligned, without sacrificing your integrity."
I've already, repeatedly, acknowledged his body of work. Some of it
is good. How many times do I need to do that? Is several not enough?
I have no desire to align my goals with Benyamin's or myself with him.
We are very different people with very different goals living by very
different codes of conduct.
Never in my life have I acted as he has here. Never have I sent out
such a letter. Never have I complained when a reporter would not change
a quote of mine to something I preferred later. Never have I threatened
somebody over such. Never have I told people not to talk to another
reporter or another publication, even ones I've hated. Only once, in
over 200 interview requests, have I ever refused an interview request
(that was from the Jewish Journal in May of 2001 and I did not believe
that an article that would focus on my writing on the porn industry
would be appropriate for a publication that was stacked inside dozens
Cathy Seipp writes Luke:
Well, let's see.
He sounds pissy. But so do you, as the email exchange goes on. I would
not have asked you to change the word sucks to stinks. But since he
did, and it was evidently a big thing to him, and I guess we'll take
his word for it that it's not normally how he speaks, and he's not a
celebrity or even a public figure, I would probably have gone along
If I didn't know you as I do, I would be more on your side here. But
since I do know that sometimes you will dig your heels in and be stubborn
for no good reason when it comes to making these sorts of changes --
or actually, changes that are far more serious and really should be
made -- I'm inclined to understand why the guy feels pissed off.
Fiddish: Andrew Silow-Carrol responds to Benyamin Cohen on the AJPA
A number of us have been interviewed by Ford. He is a character, but
I found that, after posting a transcript of our interview on his web
site, he was open to my corrections and amendations and quickly changed
the transript to reflect them. And because he posts the full transcript,
there's no defense that any of us were quoted "out of context." Ford
clearly has his point of view -- he thinks Jewish journalism is lousy
and wants those in the profession to explain why. But so far, the interviews
-- with Larry Cohler-Esses, Rob Eshman, Jonathan Sarna, Michael Berennbaum,
and others -- make for fascinating and sometimes sobering reading about
the state of the profession. I also think it is never a bad idea for
journalists to experience what it feels to be on the other end of an
interview. So I'll have to disagree with Binyamin -- take Ford's call,
weigh your words carefully, and enjoy the debate that he is engendering
with his project. Andrew
Silow-Carroll Editor in Chief New Jersey Jewish News