Old Fashioned Jew, Old Fashioned Reporter

By Borsuk, Alan J. | Nieman Reports, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

Old Fashioned Jew, Old Fashioned Reporter


Borsuk, Alan J., Nieman Reports


Perhaps I was too flip in my answer to a frequent question. People asked how the editors at The Milwaukee Journal dealt with the fact that I observe the Jewish Sabbath in its most traditional ways, which means, among other things, that I don't work on Friday nights or Saturdays. My standard answer was that it had never been a problem, but I'd find out for sure the day a plane landed nose first at the airport two hours before Friday sunset.

It was 3:21 p.m. on Friday, September 6, 1985, when a Midwest Express DC-9 crashed on take-off at Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, killing all 31 on board. It was 3 1/2 hours until the start of the Sabbath.

As soon as word got to the newsroom, an editor told me to get set to do rewrite on the main story. That was often my role on big stories; I was (and am) pretty decent at handling a lot of information coming at me.

I told him I was good until 6 o'clock. He didn't balk, nor did any of the editors above him.

In some ways, it was hard for me to pull out of such a big story -- a major plane crash right here? My adrenaline and reporting style told me to work straight through the night, until the next afternoon's paper was done. And I'm sure it was harder for my bosses to accept my saying it. When duty calls like that, you aren't supposed to say no.

I wrote a story for out late afternoon edition (in fact, it won awards that year for deadline work). There were plenty of good people eager to sit down in my place when I left at 6. I called in after sundown on Saturday night, went back to work on the plane crash and stayed with it steadily, along with another reporter, for almost six months.

Every editor involved in that decision is gone from what is now The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but I am still appreciative for their acceptance and understanding. Every boss I have had since then has followed their example. That is one of the central reasons why I am still loyal to the newspaper.

For the first decade that I worked at the paper, I didn't adhere to the practices of Orthodox Judaism. It's a long story how and why my wife and I changed our ways, and it's not necessary to tell it here. But we are good examples of what is known in the American Jewish world as baal teshuvahs -- a small but significant wave of people who have become Orthodox as adults.

I admit it's an odd thing for a newspaper reporter or editor to be, for many reasons.

While there are many Jews in the news business, some who follows the traditional religious practices to the degree I do is close to unique. I'm doubtful many news organizations would knowingly welcome a person like me -- too many schedule and assignment restrictions would probably be the cited reason -- even though I think I provide a pretty good piece of evidence that things can be worked out well.

But my religious life does shape some of the important parts of how I do my job. In some cases, this means some constraints for my editors, colleagues and myself. I would argue, on the other hand, that in significant ways, the impact is beneficial.

Scheduling is the best example of the tangible aspects of working out religious/professional issues. Not working from roughly sundown Friday to sundown Saturday means I wouldn't be a good person to assign to the college football run since the action is almost always on Saturday afternoons. There are plenty of other examples.

Furthermore, I don't answer the phone on the Sabbath or major holidays, so I can't be reached by the copy desk for last minute questions on a piece for Sunday. My editors know that means we need to iron things out by Friday afternoon.

I don't do some other conventional things, like eating out (Milwaukee has only two kosher restaurants). So I'm not much on the lunch scene, either socially or professionally.

But these are practical matters that almost never cause genuine difficulty. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Old Fashioned Jew, Old Fashioned Reporter
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.