16 Years of Walking the Tightrope

Sixteen years ago today the first copy of the English edition of Hamodia was printed. A new era begun.

I am often asked, is it only 16 years? It seems like the paper has been around forever.

Sixteen years.

Thousands of issues have been published.

Hundreds of thousands of words were written; covering the news, conveying the message, relating the story.

Sixteen years.

Week in week out — Erev Yom Tov, Motzoei Pesach, Tishah B’Av in the afternoon, during snowstorms and hurricanes, during heat waves and blackouts. During times of war and terror and times of peace and unity, during times of happiness and times of pain.

For 16 years, Hamodia has been at the forefront conveying a clear message to Torah Jewry.

Throughout the years, Hamodia has gained respect, popularity, and political influence. Above all it has earned the trust of Gedolei Yisrael, as well as a loyal following, who believe in the right of the public not only to know, but also in their right not to know.

Not an easy balance.

Countless articles and news pieces have been pulled — often at the last minute — not because we believe in sweeping things under the carpet nor  because our readers lack intelligence, but because we firmly believe that not everything that happens has to be publicized. The same goes for advertisements.

Relating news in a proper fashion and representing the Jewish community in a respectable light carries with it a huge responsibility. We value the trust of our readership who rely on  us to present the news in a manner befitting Torah Jewry. Only Hashem is witness to the effort that is expended to live up to the mission with which we were entrusted.

Currently, the media world finds itself in a transitional period where, after hundreds of years of relying on printed matter, the world is gravitating to what it calls social media — I prefer to refer to it as anti-social media. Publishing a newspaper in these times involves tremendous challenges.

Social media offers every individual unlimited opportunities to air their grievances and express their opinions in a variety of forums. It gives a stage to irresponsible people to pose as disseminators of Torah views and perspectives on different issues while, in reality, they espouse half truths and open lies.

These individuals believe that innovative change must start from the bottom up. They promote machlokes through lashon hara and rechilus and undermine true authority and leadership.

Their vocabulary consists of control, power, and self-promotion. Honesty, responsibility, and accountability are simply not part of their lexicon.

Many claim that it is time to open the “ghetto gates” and face reality. Print media is dead, they say, as the world progresses to the next information platform. But their grim predictions do not frighten us.

We are not closing our eyes to the reality. We are aware that social media is here to stay and we will deal with its ramifications, but not by sacrificing our principles.

We firmly believe that the Ribbono shel Olam, Who has helped us get to this point, will continue to guide us in the right direction.

We will deal with the challenges as they arise, and with lots of siyatta diShmaya we will merit continued success.

Ruth Lichtenstein