I've received my fair share of goodies in the past. So have others.
But while blogging gives the "Citizen Journalist" many benefits, it also requires a basic commitment to journalistic standards of truth and integrity.
If not, then we loose our power to provide a fresh, honest and personal voice to the world . . . and instead become nothing more then cheap cogs in marketing. Ultimately we not only fail to live up to what we wish to stand for, but instead work against it.
Case in point: A certain blog recently reviewed Mordechai ben David's new album Kulam Ahuvim.
Now before I continue, I'd like to make a few points clear. I do not know Chaim Rubin personally (for that matter, due to his anonymity, I don't believe many people do), I can only say that in my dealings with him online, he's always been friendly. His blog has been a long standing feed on my Google Reader (for nearly four years now) . . . So let it be clear that I have no ill-will towards him or his blog.
That being said, we have an obligation to avoid hypocrisy, sycophancy and other signs of falseness.
In his review he writes:
One last thing, I hate to write anything negative because at this point I know the subject or someone involved in the project will read it at some point. Let me just address one thing, yes, MBD’s voice isn’t the same, so it’s hard to compare this CD to say … Moshiach or Mamminim. But that doesn’t matter, even like this it still incredible. I’d trade a weaker MBD voice over 80 percent of whats on the market currently any daySomething struck me the wrong way with his wording and intent. If MBD's voice is indeed no longer what it used to be (something completely acceptable - the man is allowed to age!), then say it! While the Torah is careful not to embarrass a non-kosher animal, it also clearly states what is right and wrong when it comes down to action. Say it, as pleasantly and respectfully as possible, and move on. If reviews, even if entirely true, don't say what is problematic, then they loose all authority!
Surprised by the sentiment expressed in the review, I decided to comment on Rubin's standards:
You write that you hate to write anything negative . . . Frankly I'm some[what] shocked by your statement! While it's important to respect the work and efforts of others, by not calling a spade a spade, or dodging the truth, you loose all journalistic integrity . . .My comment criticizing the ethics of the reviewer (not the CD - as at the time I had not yet heard it!) never went up.
Instead I received an email from the reviewer letting me know that "every word" written was "the truth." - As to the lack of a complete and full review, I was told that the reader could infer what was wrong with the album from what was not written.
This path was described as being far better then what "some people" would rather have written - i.e. "this song sucks, it makes no sense, I think he sounds terrible, etc ..."
I for one was shocked by the travesty being presented as an honest review.
I understand the fine line one most walk when reviewing the work of others, and I agree that saying somethings "sucks" or sounds horrible is both immature and unprofessional. However to say that a song was lack luster, boring, or the like is not unfair.
That they get upset is no secret, some time back Rubin was called out for his "harsh review of something" and as a result was confronted with and "had a long talk with someone who was very involved in the album".
If in the review there is a failure to point out serious flaws in a track or album, then hard earned money (Yiddishe gelt -with that the term implies) has been wasted. If one were to buy a mediocre product based on a one sided Consumer Reports review, he'd cry foul. This is no different!
What is more, if the reason for not writing a complete review is due to the presence of free review units supplied by the labels, then what we see on the site is nothing more then an advertisement. Perhaps one written by a fan and entirely his own words and opinion, but one biased by the gift none the less.
My original comment calling out the author for writing lack of journalistic integrity was never posted to the site. The reason, as mentioned in a follow up e-mail was that it was too negative. Negative of who? Not of Mordechai ben David, nor of the music labels, but rather about the blogger himself!
In short, for asking for a clear and basic commitment to journalistic integrity. My comment was censored. True I was given the decency of being told why it was censored, but censored it was nonetheless.
When Mishpacha Magazine (poorly) cropped out Laura Bush from picture of the White House kitchen being kashered for a Chanukah party, Rubin was in near hysterics calling, admittedly a stupid and near pointless move, "offensive, not just to women, but to world leaders," a "Chillul Hashem" a source of "animosity toward Frum people by men and women in positions of power(?!)"
I doubt that Laura has Mishpacha on her reading table, and question Chaim Rubin's statement that "It’s bad enough you don’t show women, for whatever sad reasoning" (Has he ever spoken to rabbonim about the Rebbe's sentiment about portraying the female likeness in Chabad publications? He might be surprised), the point remains that when it comes to his own honor and credentials, he doesn't flinch in hiding the truth.
Let's hope that the new year has more abiding results.
Technorati Tags: Blogging, Music, JBlogosphere, Life of Rubin, Mordechai ben David, Journalism, Reviews, Censorship