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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 15, 2009 / 19 Teves 5769

Superstitions and skin color

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Barack Obama will face a sobering array of problems when he takes office as the nation's 44th president next week, but the color of the reporters who will be covering him is not one of them. Nor is the pigmentation of Washington journalists one of the genuinely unnerving problems with which the news industry is grappling these days.

With so many other things to worry about, and with the whole world able to see that racial identity is no longer a barrier to even the most powerful position in American life, you might think the press would finally be ready to abandon its unhealthy preoccupation with the color of skin — especially the skin within its own ranks. Alas, no.

"Obama, Like His Predecessors, Will Face a Press Corps Lacking in Minorities," laments the Washington Post on the front page of Monday's Style section. Media reporter Howard Kurtz describes "the relative paucity of black journalists at the White House" as a "cause for concern," and he isn't the only one who thinks so. Even President Bush is quoted as saying that "there need to be more minorities in the press corps."

But why should it matter to anyone but a racist whether a White House reporter is black or white? Well, says Michael Fletcher, a colleague of Kurtz's, "you would want to have black journalists there to bring a different racial sensibility." By the same token, more evangelical journalists would presumably bring a different religious sensibility to the White House, more journalists from the Deep South would bring a different regional sensibility, and more Republican journalists would bring a different political sensibility. Do you know of any news organizations that are fretting over the "relative paucity" of evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans on their payrolls? Me neither.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Obama's accession to the White House "is prompting major changes in the nation's black press, ushering in a series of firsts that editors say will reshape print, internet, radio, and television coverage aimed at African-American audiences." Among those changes: Essence and Ebony, two top magazines among black readers, are going to assign reporters to the White House. Jet magazine is adding a two-page Washington report to each issue. On Jan. 20, Black Entertainment Television will replace its "booty-shaking music videos" with a live, four-hour broadcast of Obama's swearing-in. TV One, another black-oriented cable network, is going even further, with 21 hours of inaugural coverage.

All of which, Politico observes, marks something of a return "to a time when the black press — particularly magazines — were newsier." It was Jet, for example, that first printed the shocking pictures of lynching victim Emmet Till in 1955.

But hold on. If it's been decades since the black press paid close attention to presidential politics, why should anyone be surprised that black reporters haven't been thronging the White House press room? If bringing that "different racial sensibility" to Washington journalism hasn't been a priority for Essence or Jet, why should it have been one for the Washington Post or NBC?

The plain if unfashionable truth is that the White House press corps, and journalism generally, don't need more black reporters. They don't need more white reporters, either. Journalism needs good reporters, and good reporting isn't a function of race. If the color of Obama's skin is immaterial to his fitness to occupy the White House, surely the color of any other man's skin is immaterial to his fitness to cover the White House. Washington journalism will not be improved by seeking out "journalists of color," but by seeking out journalists of integrity, talent, and thoughtfulness.

Americans are often astonished to learn about the Japanese obsession with blood type. To us it is the sheerest nonsense to believe that blood type determines character, personality, or matrimonial suitability, but millions of Japanese are convinced of it. Four books on the importance of blood type were among Japan's bestsellers in 2008, selling more than 5 million copies.

We wonder that intelligent people can put stock in such nonsense; we can't imagine that anyone would let an irrelevant physical characteristic like blood type affect a hiring decision or a romantic choice. Shouldn't we find equally preposterous the irrational belief that skin color is related to professional skill, intellectual outlook, or journalistic "sensibility?" It is time to lay aside such superstitions, even as we have laid aside the shibboleth that a black man cannot be president of the United States.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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