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Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Future of Haveil Havalim

In the most recent edition of HH, I received some feedback, expressing concern about the political future of the carnival. A number of people criticized the trend of including mostly right-wing bloggers or, in the cases where left-wing blogs were included, excluding their posts dealing specifically with Israel. The main point of these sentiments was that HH is skewed to the right, and not necessarily reflective of the Jblogosphere in general. This type of criticism is very similar to what I've observed during the Jewish Blogging Awards, hosted by Israellycool. Here's my own take on the issue: *personally*, I included EVERY SINGLE POST that was sent to me, regardless of the political ideology. Moreover, I went out of my way to find as many relevant posts to include as was possible, and even included posts by such bloggers as Orthodox Anarchist, which I haven't really seen being included in HH in the past. In addition, Soccer Dad was kind enough to forward me a number of posts, with which he specifically disagreed, and I included them as well. Here's the problem: the overwhelming majority of people who sent in their posts were right-wing. The left-wing bloggers for some reason did not respond at all and didn't send me anything.

Secondly, since I'm right-wing myself, I generally interact with the same community and tend to look through the same blogs and links. A few blogs include a variety of links, but most blogrolls are fairly homogeneous, so I'm not really "introduced" to the left-wing blogging community... and therefore simply don't know where to look. This may also be the problem with other hosts. Furthermore, most of the bloggers who regularly contribute to HH are either American (and mostly observant to some degree) or Israeli, in which case most of them are Americans, who've made aliya (and a few Russian-speaking center right or right-wing bloggers). I'm not denying that there are many left-wing Jewish blogs, but they are either a)secular American - and I don't know too many of them or b)Hebrew-speaking Israeli and I don't read Hebrew.

In this edition of HH, I suggested broadening our community by including Hebrew bloggers in the future editions of HH. I will leave it up to the future hosts and people who read Hebrew, since I, unfortunately, don't. I did include a Spanish-speaking post, and will continue to try to broaden the horizons by reading other Spanish blogs (and perhaps looking for some Russian ones as well), and forwarding them to the future hosts. I know there's also a Portuguese-speaking Jblogging community, and I hope that someone who speaks the language, will take the trouble to look through them and forward the posts in the future. I think that HH would do even better than it's doing if it included non-English-speaking bloggers as well as English-speaking ones. It would serve the goal of uniting the Jewish world much better. However, that is my suggestion, and I cannot do all the work by myself. So here's what I'm asking everyone to do:

1)If you speak any other languages, and know any relevant Jewish blogs in those languages, please let us know about them and help us welcome them to the Jblogosphere. Also, please send in their entries to HH, with a brief summary of the post.

2) Left-wing bloggers (yes, this means YOU!!!), you're more than welcome to send entries to the future editions of HH. We want HH to be as inclusive as possible, and hoping this effort to transcend petty political squabbles, so frequent in the blogosphere.

3)Right-wing hosts of future editions - please take the trouble to look for alternative points of view and include them, even if you disagree vehemently. I think more intellectual diversity will improve the level of discussion, and in the end, truth will come out in the debate. Or not. But at least we will become aware of other points of views and how to deal with them.

4) Right-wing and left-wing bloggers - please don't shun each other. We're the Jblogosphere. We can disagree and we WILL disagree. We will even fight, sometimes. But in the end we're part of the same nations, and have more important goals than just winning some stupid flame wars. Please, Jewish bloggers of the world united. Sounds familiar? ; ) But hopefully, will work better.

I'm looking forward to your suggestions and feedback!

Comments on "The Future of Haveil Havalim"

 

Blogger Soccer Dad said ... (6:21 AM) : 

I find it very upsetting that people are bothered by the skewing. But as you pointed out if you don't nominate yourself don't complain.

Among recent hosts have been Blue Enclave and Perspectives of a Nomad. Both consider themselves leftists. If you don't take advantage of right wing hosts because you're offended by them, then submit when there's a left wing host.

Myself, I wish there was a bit more diversity. I will admit that there are some blogs that truly offend me and I will not carry them if I host. (Let me clarify I will not seek them out if I host; I would include them if they nominated themselves.)

When I started Haveil Havalim I had hoped that people would make it self sustaining by nominating themselves. What's made it self sustaining though has been the energy of the hosts who not only edit Haveil Havalim each week but who actively seek out many more posts than what are submitted to them.

People who complain over the makeup have the ability to change things. Quit griping and give credit to the wonderful hosts. And if you have something to say: nominate yourself.

 

Blogger Batya said ... (6:45 AM) : 

In general, I've noticed stronger right-wing blogging than left, even in the states.

One could say that the left-wing has the official media and even gets paid for their articles!

 

Blogger Michael Brenner said ... (7:15 AM) : 

I gave credit to the wonderful host, just not the non-critical kind. Unlike most people, she makes the effort to look for as much as she can. Fortunately for her, she has the time to do it. Unfortunately, when one hasn't the time to change things by oneself, gripping is next best option. I'd be selling her short if I didn't give her my full opinion.

I should like to make one correction, which is that there was not only an absence of left-wing opinion, but of moderate opinion on the issue of Israel. Or so it seemed to me. Or perhaps I did not like what appeared to be a certain sameness about the opinions presente on Gaza. Of course, there is no need to keep an artificial balance, but when the most comprehensive and authoritative review of the J-blogosphere has that much trouble, something is amiss.

I will discount the suggestion that left-wing blogging is less necessary to include because the media is left-wing. This idea is not borne out by the evidence, other than misleading polls of the personal political viewpoints of journalists. Bill O'Reilly, demagogue that he is, also gets paid to write in newspapers and has the highest rated show on cable. The Op-ed pages in the major newspapers of this country, the best comparison in print for bloggers, do not have a left-wing bias that I've seen demonstrated; if anything they have a right-wing bias. The New York Times include right-wing op-eds all the time. The New York Post and Wall Street Journal generally do not.

 

Blogger Ezzie said ... (7:38 AM) : 

I will discount the suggestion that left-wing blogging is less necessary to include because the media is left-wing. This idea is not borne out by the evidence, other than misleading polls of the personal political viewpoints of journalists.

That's simply false. Check the study last year by UCLA...

And the Times is distinctly lefist on its op-ed pages, and has noted that itself numerous times (criticizing its own paper for reporting the news with a leftist slant).

Irina, this was an excellent post. Thanks.

 

Blogger Jack's Shack said ... (9:24 AM) : 

I should like to make one correction, which is that there was not only an absence of left-wing opinion, but of moderate opinion on the issue of Israel. Or so it seemed to me.

You are entitled to your opinion, but many people would say that there many moderate blogs contained in HH.

In the end it is the responsibility of the individual blogger to see that they self nominate their posts.

 

Blogger Soccer Dad said ... (10:12 AM) : 

In truth you know what I really wish we would see more of? Jewish trivia. Like Life-of-Rubin's piece on Jan Murry.
http://life-of-rubin.blogspot.com/2006/07/jewish-comic-legend-passes-away.html
Or the stuff you'd see at AJ History.

 

Blogger tafka PP said ... (12:38 PM) : 

Great Post, Irina!

I actually didn't realise until reading this that HH was compiled via self-nomination, I thought it was more to do with who is hosting and what they like to read, hence the variety: I guess that goes some way to explain why some bloggers are featured with greater regularity than others!

To counter the arguments about political bias in the media and blogosphere- I think the reason there are less Israeli Anglo-Saxon Left-Wing/Moderate Bloggers is simply that there are substantially less Israeli Anglos on the political left than on the right, and this is reflected in the blogosphere. The Israeli Hebrew blogging world is a little more balanced in that regard. I won't take offence at Batya's comment- my returning readers I assume enjoy what I write, "Strong" or otherwise.

BTW- SoccerDad- I emailed you a while ago but never heard back from you to tell you I'd actually love to host...

 

Blogger westbankmama said ... (12:51 PM) : 

I also think it would be helpful if people sent in their submissions earlier in the week, rather than at the last moment. I personally received so much stuff on Friday/Motzei Shabbat that I was a bit overwhelmed.

 

Anonymous saus said ... (7:09 PM) : 

As a previous host I add my comments.

Firstly, I got maybe one left wing submission and I included a few more. I also used every single post sent in I was aware of except for one which was RIGHT WING and not apppropriate in my eyes. It is hoster's perogative, and I think the hosts have bent over backwards to put in as many as possible as evidenced by the growing nature of the HHs. One cannot expect a host to surf the entire net or blogs they don't often frequent, even though THEY pften do just THAT.

If there is gripes, then submit your quality posts. I only submit a single post a week and occasioanally none when none of my own stand out to me. If there is a criticism I have it is that there should be limits on both number of links per blog, and submissions irrespective of political view.

As a guy who gets a few links on occasion from an HH I am truly grateful that more than what is submitted can sometimes appear, but I would support a max 2 links / blog, and a max 3 submissions.

I had no problem personally trying to find links not sent in to add more goods, I had more of a problem going through many entries submitted as overkill, there should not be 10 submissions from blogs, or 75% of posts sent in as this ties up the host needlessly. I felt pressured at first as a novice to include everything, then cut to max 2 per blog except soccerdad links who does not receive enough in the HH.

This may also stop the grow festival which will begin impacting whether people volunteer, soccer dad has warnings on his blog every week about these issues, I think personally he should implement them more firmly as a rule set, I'll probably be the minority on this opinion.

When one considers that secular, or orthodox, or conservative hosts include posts from all stripes, this criticism strikes me as totally unfounded, in the end you get generally what is sent in, plus some more of the hoster's perogative, that's my take. More left blogs need to step up if they want more left wing posts. Submit your best, I'd be confident it would be in the HH personally.

 

Blogger Ezzie said ... (9:18 PM) : 

Though I'm often a person who gets more than a couple links from HH, I'd agree that it should be limited to 2-3 per person per week...

 

Blogger Michael Brenner said ... (6:32 AM) : 

The Times is not distinctly leftist in its op-ed pages. It is moderately center-left. It is perhaps more left-wing on its editorial page, though not leftist.

Are you referring to that study based on think-tank citations? I wouldn't call that study exactly reliable. If anything, it proves not that journalists are more left-wing, but that Democrats cite more reliable think-tanks.

 

Anonymous Ozzie said ... (9:55 AM) : 

I vote for settling this in the barbarian way. Feats of Strength. Someone get the pole out of the garage.

 

Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said ... (7:46 PM) : 

First of all, Irina, I thought you did a great job.

Second, in general, the Anglos who make aliya tend to be much more right wing than Anglos who stay in the States. For example, the percentage of the population of Yesha which is Anglo is way beyond the perecentage of Anglos in Israel generally (there's also a disproportionate number of Anglo olim who are Dati/Haredi, which is probably for the same reason).

Third, I'm scared to host and I'm amazed at how some of you do it. With my luck, the week I get up the guts to volunteer to host will be a crazy work week. I find the task of putting one of these things together overwhelming (from watching everyone else) and I cannot imagine that you have to go and look for posts at blogs you don't normally frequent. Who has the time? How many blogs do any of you check in a day. I have about ten I try to check but in practice it's a lot less than that. And to be honest, I don't usually look at left blogs. I like to keep my blood pressure at a reasonable simmer :-) Occasionally, I submit posts from other blogs but they are almost invariably posts I've already linked myself. So they're really unlikely to be lefties....

 

Blogger Irina Tsukerman said ... (9:48 PM) : 

Carl, the two times I volunteered I purposely chose to be weeks when I was on vacation. I don't think I'll have the time to host another one of these till next year! : ) But thanks for sending your own posts in... As for me, I didn't look specifically for "right" blogs or "left" blogs but checked out any and all Jewish blogs that I came across. I think I would have gone nuts if I tried searching for blogs belonging to a specific category!

 

Blogger Mottel said ... (3:21 PM) : 

To me the reason seems quite simple (besides the fact mentioned that lefties may not be submitting their posts enough) . . .
I'm sure there are many Blogs run by Jews with a leftist slant, but among them, how many have dedicated their blogs about Judaism (This especially true amongst the English speaking crowd)? Most blogs (at least from what I've seen . . . this is far from scientific) centered around Judaism tend to be from a more conservative crowd . . . hence the right slant.

 

Blogger Irina Tsukerman said ... (12:24 AM) : 

Mottel: Good point.

 

Blogger tafka PP said ... (4:35 PM) : 

OK- I've had some more time to think about this.

I personally can't stomach a good half of the HH regular links for the same "blood-boiling" issues cited by a Right-Wing blogger in a comment above regarding why he doesn't read "left" blogs. This would hence preclude me ever being able to host, if I were to selectively edit things out I found racist/offensive/unpleasant/wrong. Yet when the same is done by RW hosts regarding Lefty blogs- to the extent that only a token post is included, or nothing at all- the only response it appears to engender is essentially "well, they're not as "Jewish" anyway, so it doesn't really matter."

These comments above speak volumes for themselves- HH seems to be quite happy where it is. And I'm one of two protesters, and I'm on the fringe- the "real" lefty Jewish blogs (in terms of both religion and politics) don't know- or likely care all that much- that you are having this debate. Again, I would leave the challenge as this: Is this satisfactory to you, as a blogging community, or do you want to change?

 

Blogger Sheyna Galyan said ... (1:03 AM) : 

I found this post quite illuminating, Irina!

Especially when I read this by tafka PP:

"I actually didn't realise until reading this that HH was compiled via self-nomination, I thought it was more to do with who is hosting and what they like to read..."

I didn't realize that links were from submissions either - I thought that part of the host's job was to scour the j-blogosphere for interesting stories. But I'm relatively new to this and am still figuring out what HH is all about, much less how to submit things.

So, this leaves me with a few questions:

1. How can I gauge whether a post with Jewish content is worth submitting? (Are there guidelines?)

2. How do I figure out to whom to submit it?

3. How often is the HH? (It sounds like weekly, but I want to make sure.)

Thanks!

 

Blogger TM (Jewlicious) said ... (1:09 AM) : 

We're supposed to submit articles? Who knew?

Anyway, rather than leaning to the Right or Left, we should all stick to the Middle. ;)

 

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