Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Publisher's Pitfalls

As this post is being written, a big scandal is unfolding regarding some New Jersey politicians, and also some rabbis. I shall not comment extensively on it at this time, other than to note that (A) the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty; (B) if indeed the defendants participated in the bad acts as charged, then I vehemently disapprove of such acts; (C) if indeed the defendants are found guilty or plead guilty, then there will and should be significant consequences visited upon them; and (D) even if the defendants are eventually exonerated (as I do hope will happen), the arrests and indictments are a signal to the religious Jewish community that it must go beyond damage control, and change what have become popular notions as to what is and is not acceptable behavior.

In prior posts, including the one from 5 April 2009, this blog has had occasion to mention a publication known as Yated Ne'eman. [Actually, there are two such publications, one in Israel and one based in Monsey, New York. They formerly were connected; now they are divorced but still sleeping together.]. Yated Ne'eman presents some cogent viewpoints not found in other media. In any given week, several people read Yated Ne'eman before I get hold of a copy, and I now have read the 17 July 2009 edition.

As mentioned in the prior post, Yated Ne'eman has what they would like to think is a strict policy against publishing photographs of women. Again, this is a decision I respect, given the social values of the niche of Yated's primary market, the insular religious Jewish community. Nevertheless, I now note an ironic, and, I find, comical malfunction of this strict policy. The front page of the 17 July 2009 edition carries a photo captioned "The Senate Judicary [sic] Committee is holding hearings this week for the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. See Page 90." The photo was procured from Getty Images.

Any other publication would feature a photograph of the nominee, Sonia "SoSo" Sotomayor. But because Judge Sotomayor is a woman, Yated did not place her photograph on its front page. Instead, the photo features the Judiciary Committee itself, and a whole group of photographers with their lenses trained ahead to a spot behind the photographer, where Judge Sotomayor is obviously seated. So instead of a photograph of Sonia, there is a photograph of photographers photographing Sonia, so that Sonia is totally out of the photograph.

This is amusing enough. But if one looks at the very left side of the photo on the front page of Yated Ne'eman, it seems that one of the photographers in the press pool is a w-o-m-a-n, whose lens is directed towards the Committee. We see the side view of her head, but her face is mostly obscured by her straight long black hair. But the woman's entire arm, up to the shoulder, is exposed by clothing which, in the social groups that typically read Yated Ne'eman, is deemed immodest, provocative, and even whore-like. Given Yated's penchant for not showing a woman's face, and given the mindset of Yated's core readership, the depiction of a woman's arm above the elbow -- on the Front Page of Yated Ne'eman, just below the top banner -- is nothing short of a hilarious irony!

The 24 July edition of Yated has obviously been published. I have not yet seen it, but eagerly await its arrival in my hands to see if there is any mention of reader criticism of the Sotomayor photo without Sotomayor.

The Sonia photograph without Sonia will now be among the least of Yated Ne'eman's consternations. Yated now has to report the Jersey scandal to a readership that has a well-ingrained reflex for defending their own (as do I), and a distaste for negative comments about their own, as well as an aversion to the public airing of internal controversies. The mere mention of the scandal will touch many sore spots of Yated's readership, and non-mention of the scandal would severely impair Yated's credibility.

But, given Yated Ne'eman's past stances in other matters of controversy in the insular religious Jewish community, I do expect Yated to meet the challenge quite well. We shall see!

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