Monday, May 09, 2005

The Jerusalem Post and Me

The Jerusalem Post and I have had our ups and downs.

I first started reading it on my year in Israel after high school. It was 1990-91, the year of the first Gulf War. I've always been a news junkie, and the Post was my fix. In yeshiva and kibbutz, I'd be the first one to grab it, and read it cover to cover. I especially enjoyed the late columnists David Bar-Ilan and Sam Orbaum.

In the following two years in Israel I continued to read the Post, and even got a chance to visit the offices and meet with some of the staff members - Alex Berlyne, if I remember correctly. Interestingly, I remember asking Alex why the international edition of the Post was always so out of date, and couldn't they simply send the current news over to the States to have it printed there. This was shortly before the dawn of the Internet age, and Alex found my suggestion annoying - saying that the Jews abroad should really have their own paper.

When I was back in the States from 93-96, I became a regular reader of the Post's website, and I think on some level contributed to its popularity. When their website changed URL's in the early 1990's, I sent out emails to dozens of sites that had links to news sources, telling them to include the link. There are still some references to my suggestion out there on the web...

When we made aliya to kibbutz, we were allowed one daily paper. We chose the Post, although later the kibbutz preferred we take a Hebrew daily, so the post became only for Shabbat. For my daily paper I chose HaAretz, which was a significant choice. HaAretz was much more serious than Maariv or Yediot, and in many ways filled my needs the same way the Post had a few years earlier. So on a daily basis, HaAretz was perfect - better than the Post. But on Shabbat, I've never been able to connect with any of the Hebrew papers. I can read through them, occasionally find an interesting article, but I can't just relax with them the way I could with the Post.

When we left kibbutz, I actually ended up working for the Post for a couple of months. I was doing computer support for the Jerusalem Report, which is in the same building and owned by the Post. That's when I really felt like I'd reached the summit. I got to know all the staff; there were no more secrets. The romance was gone - certainly after they let me go during layoffs.

After I left, the only connection I had was via the website (and the Shabbat paper, which I still get now). But when HaAretz came out with their English website, there wasn't much choice. It was simply a much better site, so I would end up there much more often. And as if to say "we don't want you back", the Post added pop-ups and other shtick that made its site slow to impossible to load, so now I often go days or weeks without entering it. (Which for me, still a news junkie, is significant.)

A new twist is that the revamped HaAretz site is less comfortable for me than the old one, so I actually find myself not going into either on a regular basis. My guess is that RSS will be the future here. Ynet already has an RSS feed for their English headlines, and the Fresh news site, while not RSS friendly, has a lot of the same functionality.