Friday, October 18, 2013

Get your Schmutz right here!

What used to be considered tabloid news, gossip and shmutz in the secular news media has now spread to the frum media in a big way, particularly the frum news websites and blogs. The frum print media, newspapers and magazines B"H  have editors and rabbinic boards who guide them in what what to print. They have standards and accountability for the content that's featured.  Gedolim back in Europe endorsed and encouraged the concept of frum papers to  spread Torah hashkafa and provide the news in a kosher way as an alternative to the secular press. Rarely were there a newspaper that was accepted and read without knowing who the editor or publisher is.

With the Internet age, all that has changed, opportunity arrived for anyone to open a website or blog and post whatever they want without any accountability. On the other hand there is no shame in going to a store and buying a paper you would rather not be seen with when you can read it online.

 A few individuals took the opportunity and opened frum news websites. They claim to be catering to Heimish yeshiviish and Torah community. Many of us frequent these sites and quote them as the main online frum news sites. Many mosdos and frum businesses advertise on these sites and use them as a way to get a message out.

However, these sites have no "hechsher" the editors are all anonymous, there are no known rabbanim who back up anything written or posted. More so these sites have  comment sections that post lashon hora, machlokes, shmutz and post news stories of any wrong doing by another frum "charedi" yid as a regular news item. It may call itself yeshiva world but its a far cry from that. The cofferoom section in one site is full of leitzanus and people mocking the yesodos of yiddeshkeit. Just recently with the Passing of Rav Ovadiah Yosef zatzal the comment section on VIN  was loaded with lashon hora and rechillus about a gadol hador. Another Torah site using tactics not befitting a online voice of Torah Jewry.

Some of the Frum Papers have websites but not as updated and current as other frum blogs and websites. Its time to establish a Frum news site with real people not hiding behind a screen and Rabbonim backing up everything that is posted.


  1. So are we all better off not knowing that some of our brethren are dragging God's name thru the mud by kidnapping and torturing and extorting fellow Jews?

  2. Fotheringay-PhippsOctober 18, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    IMO, there's far too much censorship in the frum world these days.

    It's not like the people who control the main media outlets are motivated by just hilchos lashon hara. They are motivated primarily by the desire to present a very specific version of the Torah, the world, and history, and if there are facts out there which might undermine that view, then those facts need to be supressed.

    And the problem is that everyone knows this. Very few people - other than the most simpleminded - genuinely believe that they are getting an accurate picture of the world from these publications. But there are issues that people are not familiar with, and this is where these publications can do their damage.

    I remember once reading an article in one of these frum publications - I forgot which - about a certain mesivta. And this article stated outright that this mesivta, after opening, had quickly gained a reputation as one of the top mesivtas around etc. etc. And what was interesting about that was that everyone knew that this mesivta had never "made it" and was always struggling. And more than that, I had a friend who was a magid shiur in this mosad who had told me the same thing, and said he would probably be out of a job shortly because he expected the place to fold (which it did not long afterwords).

    But the significant thing about it was that it was so unsurprising. It just seemed so normal and SOP. And I remember thinking at the time: imagine if I read in the New York Times that such-and-such school was one of the premier schools out there, and reading in a frum publication something along the same lines. Which would I take more seriously? Which report would carry more weight?

    Ukidai bizayon vikatzef ...

  3. The underlying problem is
    how can you have "responsible frum websites" when the rabbinic leadership is in total denial of the internet as a legitimate source of communication and news?

    1. The frum news websites are for-profit. They need to pay the writers and aggregators, hence they need "hits". The more hits, the more they can charge for advertising. Hence they allow comments which are questionable or outright LH, depending on which website.

      The solution may be a "Chessed Shehl Emmes". Perhaps a philanthropist can fund a frum news website that will only deliver news, with no need for all the "coffee room" gimicks to gain readership.

  4. Look at the recent comments regarding the Rav Shteinman attack. Mamish outright bashing of gedolim and YWN allows all these comments through. Can someone please take this to some Rabbanim in Flatbush or Lakewood who can make a raash about this? Somebody must stop them because they are becoming like VIN. They think they are better because they don't put every shmutz story but they are still just as bad because their comments are almost the caliber of VIN. Being better then outright shkotzim doesn't make you good.

  5. Rav Elya Brudny is the RY of YWN editor