After some weeks of perpetual posting about Maccabean content, I would dearly like to move on. I certainly hope to now do so, but it is difficult because the ethics at the core of this issue are so important. Prior to moving on to blog about other issues, I would however like to leave on record some very strong views about the whole experience of the past few weeks.
To recount, there have been four clear demonstrations of a columnist in the Maccabean lifting content from a public website, and reproducing it under the guise of his authorship. This has been met by the Maccabean with stone silence, otherwise read to be complicity and sanctioning of the situation. There has been no acknowledgement, no action taken. The likely outcome for now looks to be that this may just pass by and settle down, and things will carry on as they have. That is probably the vain hope of those who are responsible for fraudulantly reproducing other peoples knowledge under the name of a correspondent.
Whether the plagiarism becomes widely known and understood, or whether the Maccabean remains respected or not is a matter that is up to the community. Sadly, I for one have lost faith in my community newspaper.
Yet I fervently believe that any sizable Jewish community should have a publication that connects it, and that the newspaper of the community should be supported. Regrettably, when any newspaper abuses its responsibilities to its readers, and acts against the interests of the community that it serves, then it is time to call things into question.
I believe the issues that underlie the sustainability of “Perth’s only Jewish Newspaper” are systemic in nature. Outside of the blogosphere, there is little opportunity to challenge what is an embedded faultline. There is no channel to nominate for involvement or representation into the Maccabean editorial or management. There is no public governance structure or no accountability of the community paper to any organisation. The paper is answerable only to itself. For this reason, there are many issues that need to be put up for discussion for all those who passionately care about Jewish media in Perth.
The Maccabean has revenue sources from subscriptions and advertising. This barely covers the papers administration costs, in an economically strained age. However it appears that no financial resources are dedicated to delivering journalism or news content that is locally sourced. For this reason, the newspaper simply relies on community groups to volunteer content about activities, and in effect charges for the ability of Local Community groups to raise their profile. Many of the events and activities of the community, and many news stories do not find their way into the paper. In the past few weeks there have been a number of “stories” that have not been captured in the paper.
- Two famous Rebbes have visited Perth.
- A new kosher restaurant has been opened.
- Carmel School has progressed a project for significant capital works to develop sports facilities.
- Two new youth workers have been secured to serve the community.
- Project Seed has released informaton about its return to Perth for a new Kollel program
These are just five examples of seemingly worthy news stories that should have been profiled in our community newspaper. Their omission demonstrates that the paper is “out of touch” with what is happening, particularly within the religious sector. If there were journalistic resources within the paper, maybe these stories could have been profiled. Instead, we have what must be the worlds only newspaper that operates on a commercial ticket with no reporters or news bureau.
This comment is a segway into posts to follow. The nature of media is changing in every sphere and society. Thankfully we live in an age where people who don’t respect their media have an opportunity to become the media.
With the best of efforts, its time for this blog to stop lamenting about all that is wrong with the Maccabean, and the issues of ethical corruption that have been dutifully disclosed. It seems that a large cross-section of Perth Jewry just do not “get it”, and do not seem to care for the way in which critically important Jewish ideas are misrepresented, supported only by the means of intellectual dishonesty.
That is very sad. But we as a Jewish community are not sad. We are rich in heritage, strong in committment, privileged in so many ways. Back to regular programming – this blog I hope will highlight the many examples of all that is wonderful about being Jewish in Perth.