Jodi Rudoren Enters the Scene: Tweets or Tea Leaves?
Hardly a day has passed since it was announced that Jodi Rudoren will be replacing Ethan Bronner as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. Rudoren announced her move to the Middle East on Twitter yesterday afternoon, and continued posting throughout the day about her new assignment. To Tablet's Marc Tracy, those subsequent tweets "haven’t been innocuous."
Tweeting at Ali Abuminah, the editor of the frankly anti-Israel Electronic Intifada Website, that she’s “heard good things”—of someone who advocates boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel and a one-state solution—is rightly making supporters of Israel suspicious of her objectivity and of where she stands. Dittoretweeting an article titled “Palestine: Love in the Time of Apartheid.” Even tweeting praise for Peter Beinart’s forthcoming book suggests, at least, that she favors one narrative of the conflict over the others.
The most charitable reading says Rudoren possesses an astounding lack of sense of the profile of the post to which she has been appointed; of how she is going to be perceived; and of the fact that she is betraying her opinions before she has even started reporting. Only a fool would expect a reporter to have no opinions, but we expect them to zip their opinions up in favor of objectivity and to come to new stories with an open mind; Rudoren is already damaging her readers’ trust. And it’s a totally unforced error! Nobody’s telling her to tweet! (Right?) She is voluntarily doing this. In this reading, she is one more Gen-Xer, in the Anthony Weiner mold, totally clueless about Twitter.
And the less charitable, perfectly plausible reading, is that she is slanted toward anti-Zionism.
Tracy concludes by calling on the newspaper to clean up the mess by "telling her to—for the love of God—stop tweeting." If his concerns do have merit, though, the solution would not be for editors to tell Rudoren to stop tweeting — to hide the proverbial tea leaves. It would be for them to do whatever it takes to ensure that the future isn't marked by biased reporting.
Only time will tell whether Tracy's concerns will be borne out. Meanwhile, we'll repeat what we recently said of the other new entrant to the Israel journalism scene: If the goal is to report about Israel accurately and fairly, we certainly wish Rudoren the best. (It would be a welcome change).