Recently there was a call to create a more objective Israel, guided by the principles of the Torah and Talmud. But before we progress to the realm of politics, we need to first make a stop at the headquarters of your favorite neighborhood newspaper.
Photo Credit: Babylonian Talmud, copied by Solomon ben Samson, France, 1342 (Photo of Exhibit at the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, CC-SA)
There is a problem with the way news is presented today. But as readers increasingly voice their interest in reading about the truth, not political views, the search for objective journalism has reached the forefront of public consciousness.
The Road to Objective Journalism
Recently there was a call to base the State of Israel according to the Talmud. This is of course a very good thing. That the legal and moral compass of Israel should be according to the Torah. But this isn’t the only recent call to align more steadfastly with objective truths. In America for instance, the push for campaign finance reform results from similar sentiments.
But the call to establish the State of Israel according to the Talmud is already something more. While doing away with Super PACs doesn’t guarantee the election of selfless public servants, running a country according to the God-given laws of the Torah would result in something very great indeed. And since media still holds a great influence on public opinion, in order to establish a more objective country, we first need a more objective media.
The basis of Talmudic Journalism was discussed two weeks before the call to establish a Talmudic State in an article called (appropriately enough) Talmudic Journalism. But instead of continuing to lay the theoretical groundwork, we have now reached the time (it didn’t take long!) to make it a reality.
We mentioned there that data-driven journalism is a main way that journalists are trying to leap past the subjective-objective gap. If even the curling up of the corners of a news anchor’s lips can affect a presidential election (as discussed there), then how much more so the dreaded opinion piece!
One approach is to spend one’s career speaking out against OP-ED writers (as Nate Silver likes to do … using data of course). But instead of railing against the right-left polarized OP-ED writers of the world, we’d like to try and reach some objective common ground.
Leaving Subjectivity Behind
For my day job (in case you were wondering, these articles are what I classify as my “night job”) I had the opportunity last week to communicate with other journalists directly. Those that I corresponded with via email or phone were very nice and were fair with the pieces they published. But there was one paper that I was hesitant to contact because they have a history of publishing far-left articles. Despite my hesitations, I sent them emails like the others. Although no one contacted me back, they did indeed publish a negative opinion piece.
How should a person respond to something like that? Speak out against the leftist paper? What good does that do?
While Nate Silver thinks that data leads to more objective journalism, our approach once again reverts back to where we began — with the objective law and moral guidance of the Torah.
Debating Under the Tent of Torah
One promising turn of events in our relativity polarized world of journalism is an increasing openness toward facts and figures. No matter how exciting a headline or new story is, instead of being satisfied with the most recent happening, readers now expect to understand the context behind the story. As explained in When Torah Goes Viral, what the world calls context is what we call the landscape of the Torah. No matter how exciting, increasingly the public hopes to gain some insight that will last them past the flash and shimmer of the most current story.
But instead of doing away with opinion pieces entirely, as explained in Talmudic Journalism, the intent is to start including the two opposite approaches of right and left under the one tent of Torah. When a debate is undertaken for the sake of heaven, then objectivity is present throughout because faith in God is present throughout.
Thus the underlying hope behind right-left debates is that objectivity should win out. That instead of two people coming into and leaving the debate with their own stance, the hope, is that truth should shine over both approaches.
Running a nation comprised of the various groups within the Jewish people is challenging to say the least. But whereas the stances and opinions may seem to exist along an impassible divide, the closer we align ourselves to Divine truth, the closer we will become one people. This is the inner intent behind aligning a country according to the Talmud.
For more on how to foster unity between the three types within the Jewish people, please read: Three Types of Teshuvah (Repentance).
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