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Media on Media

Binyamin Rose

What secrets of the profession are revealed when hundreds of journalists in the passionate Middle East unite for three days of discussion and debate?

Monday, December 22, 2014

One of my first mentors-as a rookie journalist was a senior editorial writer at the Record in Hackensack, New Jersey. Unfortunately, with the passage of 36 years, I only remember his first name,Bruce, but I clearly remember two ideals he imparted.1. Don’t socialize with other journalists.2. Learn how to separate from the pack mentality.The first is a major challenge, especially for young, unmarried journalists, he explained. Reporters work odd hours, so they tend not only to work together, but to socialize after hours. In the process, their off-beat lifestyle severs them from the mindset and concerns of the average reader. He urged me to make friends outside the profession.His second lesson was how to distinguish oneself in a highly competitive field. The only way was to separate from the pack when covering a story. The term “lone wolf” has a negative connotation these days, but he advised not to fear occasionally missing a story that everyone else was reporting as long as I was covering my beat and consistently filing original material.His decades-old advice all came back to me recently when Mishpacha asked if I would represent the magazine at the annual convention of the Israel Journalists Association, the professional group that represents the communications industry in Israel.Admittedly, it’s hard to refuse a trip to Eilat, the coastal city with the sparkling blue waters of the Red Sea that remain a constant 75 degrees year-round, rugged red mountains, and, as can be seen from the dimly lit outskirts, soul-inspiring views of the Milky Way at night. And in recent years, Yiddishkeit is no longer a stranger to Eilat. It now boasts more than 20 shuls (in addition to those that operate in the hotels), two or three mehadrin eateries, and, most important for me, a choice of two haneitz minyanim.Yet, something was holding me back. After some consideration, I realized it was Bruce. Spend three days in the exclusive company of journalists? What would Brucesay? Moreover, would Mishpacha and I really benefit professionally from the investment of three days in Eilat compared to what I could accomplish back in the office?

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