Rudoren surprised at level of scrutiny; UPDATED with comment from David HaIvriIn an interview with Oren Kessler of the JPost, future New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren professes to be surprised by the strong reaction to her Twitter feed.
“I was a little surprised. I was aware of the level of scrutiny surrounding this position and the level of intensity of the debate on the issues,” she told The Jerusalem Post by phone from New York. “Yesterday someone tweeted that the New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief shouldn’t tweet. I hope that’s not true.”Well, lets say I'd be more discrete. You know, like not talking too much about the family in public. On top of the blogs and Twitter and Facebook (all of which Israelis use extensively), we also have a very active (if mostly biased) mainstream media here. And people here feel more strongly about their issues here than they usually do in Kansas.
“There are people who are very upset about the tweets, and others have defended my right to talk to certain sources,” she said. “The notion that reaching out to Ali Abunimah is some big sin – I think people have moved on since then.”Abunimah is a non-factor here... because he's not here. I doubt most Israelis have heard of him (I first heard of him in 2007 because of his close connection to President Obama). Mondoweiss is mainly known in the blogosphere. I could suggest much more important contacts in Israel that Rudoren ought to make if she is going to be reporting from here. Yes, even on the Left.
Rudoren said she had heard of Abunimah and Philip Weiss – founders of the Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss websites, respectively – before reaching out to them on Twitter, but was not aware of the specifics of their work.
“I knew some things about them, but not everything. I’ve reached out to many many people of different stripes,” she said.
“One of the people I followed before reaching out to Abunimah was David Ha’ivri,” she added, referring to the Israeli settler activist. “I don’t want to have people keeping score – I’m trying to find a balanced Twitter diet.”
By the way, HaIvri is an important contact on the Right. He's the liaison for the Samaria regional council and he's been quoted several times on this blog (and often sends me things hoping I will post them. An email to HaIvri seeking comment for this post has thus far gone unanswered.
Speaking to the Post, the veteran journalist conceded she has little to no experience covering the Middle East: “I’ve never reported from the region. I’ve written plenty of stories about religion, particularly about Jewish and Muslims Americans. After 9/11 I wrote quite a bit about Muslims in Detroit. I’ve written various things about Jews in my career, but not about the conflict.”She's got a lot to learn. This is the Middle East....
Still, Rudoren insisted there should be no doubt she is qualified for her new position. “I’ve been a reporter since I was 13, and professionally for 20 years. I’ve covered politics, religion, immigration, breaking news,” she said. “I’ve done stories on more and less controversial subjects; I’ve been an editor for the last five years; I’ve run small and large departments, I’ve been an innovator in Web and print – it’s a surprising question to me.
“Are you asking if only people with a lot of expertise in the region should cover the Middle East? Some people have that opinion, but I don’t, and its not how the New York Times works. Broadly speaking it’s a paper that believes in generalism, and bringing in fresh eyes and insights,” she said.
She added that her predecessor Ethan Bronner “is not the same – it was his third tour as a Jerusalem correspondent – but the paper doesn’t always make its decisions the same way. Having a mix is a good thing.
“Am I qualified? Absolutely,” she said. “I wasn’t even aware people were asking that question.”
UPDATE 10:37 AM
David HaIvri comments:
"The criticism on Judi Rudoren is a little premature and blown out of proportion in my opinion. I expect a good journalist not to bee affiliated with ether side Zionist or Anti-Israel. But, to report events in a clear an objective mater. In order to do that a resourceful journalists should develop relationships with strong sources on ether side. With that being said reaching out to a Chicago based professional provocateur was a tactical mistake on her behalf. He is far from local or a source of real information. My hope for the readers of the NYT is that she succeeds in quickly learning the ins and outs of how to project a true picture of what is going on in this beautiful country we live in. I will give her a chance.I agree with David and yes, I follow him on Twitter.
In a side note I would have appreciated it if the Jpost had included my Twitter user @haivri in an article mentioning people following me on Twitter.