Monday, March 13, 2006

Yated explains their policy on biographies

Full text is here.

Overall, not a bad piece. Brings up some good points, such as that the audience a biography addresses matters. An excerpt:
The quality of the work varies as it does in any area. At Yated we set our standards high and we believe that we generally meet or beat them. In any case mediocrity is deplorable, but it is by no means unique to the field of biographies of Torah giants.
Read the whole thing.

Towards the end a certain policy that has been noted by critics is addressed. Call it the hagiograpy clause:
A related complaint that is sometimes made is that we leave out information. This is true, but the reason is that in our Torah-based scale of values, the harm or embarrassment that can be caused to someone — perhaps a family member or bystander — rates much higher than the needs of the historical record or journalistic objectivity. The actual or potential tears of a widow or an orphan weigh very heavily, and we unhesitatingly withhold any information or anecdote that may cause such pain. Even after we take this out, there is always plenty of material for our readers.
This is not something to scoff at on the face of it, but it remains to be seen if actual or potential tears are really averted when people's lives, ideas and ideals are edited in this newspaper for popular consumption.

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