Tuesday, January 25, 2011

YU Beacon

It seems like my desire - and Eitan Kastner's- has finally been realized in the form of a coed Yeshiva University newspaper. It's not The Commentator and it isn't The Observer; it's the YU Beacon which you can check out at yubeacon.com.

I think Tali Adler and Simi Lampert (Editors-in-Chief) ought to tell us a bit about who they are, how they decided to found this online newspaper, and who their staff is comprised of. Do they have an agenda and what is it? Why were the other news outlets not good enough for them? "YU Beacon" has the potential to be interesting- but first I would need to have a better handle on who is running it and whether we as members of the Yeshiva University audience ought to trust them. The only thing I can tell thus far by perusing their articles is their left-wing Modox tilt (they've interviewed Eli Winkler about being gay in the Orthodox world, are talking about JQY and decided to review "Not in Heaven" - see my blogpost about that book here). I'm not someone who minds pushing the envelope- in fact I support it- but I'm also not someone who is a big fan of agendas, unless they're announced outright. (Like "The Forward's" socialist outlook.)


The Nudnik said...

I assume you read the "Mission Statement" at http://yubeacon.com/about

"Born in order to create an outlet for articles which might otherwise have been censored,..."

What's that about?

Chana said...


I assume it's a response to the new YU Censorship Committee re: speakers. I guess they're suggesting that this censorship would not only apply to speakers but also to actual content in the newspaper.

There were attempts to censor some of my articles in "The Observer," but I didn't allow them to happen.

The Nudnik said...

I read (some time ago) the accounts in The Commentator and in The Observer. IIRC, each article has a different the list of members of that committee.

As a former (and possibly future) YU parent, the idea of a "Censorship Committee" at a university bothers me.

Anonymous said...

Is the Commentator website freezing up for anyone else?
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Why don't the YU papers just go independent? Most college newspapers are, and it takes censorship out of the equation

Anonymous said...

A few years ago an older friend of mine gave me an invaluable tidbit of knowledge with which to view and filter the world, and I quote: "Everyone has an agenda, and I do mean everyone."

It is up to us to discover and determine what those agendas might be.

Shades of Grey said...

Yeah, the censorship thing is interesting. However, the Maccabeats interview is as tame as can be...

Tali Adler said...

Hi Chana,

As it says in our mission statement, The Beacon is intended to provide a news source and forum for articles that might otherwise have been censored.

The idea for The Beacon was born when my opinions piece in favor of instituting a sex-ed curriculum in Jewish day schools was censored from The Observer. I was told that the article would be run if I removed the word "sex" from the article and got got approval from a rabbi in YU. I would not compromise my article (the idea of removing the word "sex" from an article about sex-ed was, to say the least, a bit ridiculous.) My co-Editor-in-Chief, Simi Lampert, pitched the idea of a features article about drinking on campus to the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer several times, and was told that The Observer would not run the article because it would reflect badly on YU. Both of these banned articles appear in the first issue of The Beacon.

Neither Simi nor I have any agenda against The Observer or The Commentator. We simply believe that the time has come for a forum that reflects the views and opinions of students across both the Stern and Yeshiva College campuses, without the need for self-censorship.

Anonymous said...


Was the censorship from the administration or from your fellow students?

Tali adler said...

The decision to censor the articles came from students. I do not know whether their actions were prompted or influenced by the administration.

Anonymous said...

I am to understand that there is an unwritten agreement on both newspapers that a certain level of cognizance is needed to see that certain articles which may lead to undue controversy are not to be published without the go ahead of someone in the upper echelon

Simi Lampert said...

Hi all,
In response to some of your comments, and in addition to what Tali said earlier:
The censorship we received was purely from the students. I personally spoke to the administration and discovered that there is no official Yeshiva University oversight of the papers; they are free to print what they like.
The Censorship Committee, as it has been dubbed, is of course something many of us are against, but they have no direct control over the papers. They are simply a sign of the direction in which the University is heading, which I am certain indirectly impacts the decisions on the papers.
We are not trying to create controversy or push the limits with every article (hence the tame Maccabeats one, and many others which are neutral). We would like the paper simply to be a regular student paper which won't cover up anything but will also include more "mundane" articles.
Thank you for your interest and we hope you enjoy the paper!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Tali or myself at editor@yubeacon.com.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the line is between censorship and simple editorial authority. I believe in a way the Beacon is a response to the latter. From what it sounds like to me, articles were refused by the editor of the Observer, (for either religious, ethical, or intellectual reasons I assume), and that has been deemed censorship.
I certainly would find it frustrating if the editor is senselessly turning away articles, or if I felt my editor was not representing a huge percentage of the student body. However, this is not something that really has to do with censorship; in every college, in every paper, the editor has the right to select which articles will make it to print. After all, every editor has a mission (or agenda, if you will) for their paper. Chana herself had one, a commitment to addressing issues that many preferred to remain silent. Others push for politics, religion, etc. From what it sounds like, the current editor has a specific mission for the paper, and that is one which the editors and writers of the Beacon take issue with.
I think the Beacon was bound to come around sooner or later; most campuses have multiple publications, so that each group of students can have a voice of their own. If the voice of these students were not met by the Observer, it only makes sense they would attempt to create a space of their own.
However, I do object to their mission statement describing it as a call against censorship, as this does make everyone believe it is in response to the committee and interfering administration, which it has nothing do with. The editor simply did not feel like their articles were in accordance with her mission. After all, Tali and Simi will probably find that there are articles the will not wish to publish in their paper (anything overtly racist, homophobic, or etc), and if they do not wish to print it I doubt they would consider it censorship. A better worded mission statement would be appropriate.
Anyway, best of look to Simi and Tali! I think the first issue was great, and I look forward to the next one.

Anonymous said...

I think The Beacon was created on many improper - or just wrong - premises. Its founders rile students and supporters by claiming there is no undergraduate newspaper uncensored by the Yeshiva administration. As has been made clear by The Beacon's editors in previous comments, certain articles were blocked from publication in The Observer by the editor-in-chief. This is unfortunate for writers, but certainly the editor-in-chief's prerogative. An editor employs editorial discretion, right?

But surely, a co-ed newspaper, censored or uncensored, should exist across both undergraduate colleges. This, too, is an invalid premise on which to found The Beacon, for The Commentator publishes many articles written by women, and has women on its editorial staff. The Commentator is also censored neither by the Yeshiva administration nor its senior staff. Articles are often rejected for reasons of quality, as in any publication, but never for the controversial nature of their content.

The Beacon may turn out to be a fine paper, but right now it seems it needs a better reason to exist.