By any measure, the new Cross-Currents is off to an extremely strong start. In the last several days, an article about us appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times, and was picked up by several Jewish and non-Jewish blogs. I was surprised to find us linked from the Blog Herald (which appears to be down at the moment). Many Catholic blogs linked to us when Rabbi Adlerstein helped break the story of the mistranslated statement from the Vatican. In short, all of a sudden, our stats went through the roof.
This forced me to look at the blog in terms of a high-traffic journal, rather than a nascent blog with an open forum. It needs to be easy to read, interesting — and updated frequently.
In two ways, the comments section became an issue, something which I decided to change after consultation with other writers. First of all, a large volume of comments means that the writer either fails to respond — which might leave a wrong impression — or is distracted from new contributions. When it becomes routine to receive over 15 comments in response to an entry, it’s difficult to answer every question and/or challenge, and also move forward. It also makes the blog more difficult for you to read, because you have to click on each article to see new comments on each one!
We also received (thankfully few) comments which did not enhance the quality of this journal. Those following the discussion on Loshon Hora (gossip) already know that I shut down the comments in that section, when several people utilized the comments to post various allegations and to advocate for what they deemed the legitimate use of gossip. The volume of kudos that I received for stopping those comments was both surprising and gratifying — because I didn’t particularly enjoy doing it. I’d rather let everyone put in a good word — but the Internet does not change the rules.
The American Press Institute’s CyberJournalist feels likewise, and has issued a call for bloggers to follow a code of ethics similar to that used by the Society of Professional Journalists. As the Baltimore Jewish Times article pointed out, Jewish Law calls for a higher standard of restraint than used by journalists — and yet several blogs published by otherwise-observant Jews do not even meet the SPJ standard. We will aim higher.
We are committed to playing by the rules — and producing a journal of exceptional thought and analysis. Your comments are still welcome, but now they will be sent to the writer who contributed the original piece. We will publish frequent updates and new contributions, reflecting your comments. We do continue to value your feedback and participation — we just don’t promise to publish it. We’re in good company — other high-traffic blogs like Power Line and National Review’s Corner take the same approach.
I also did a bit more work on the formatting, tightening up the fonts and making the journal more readable — at least in my opinion. Please send me a comment via this entry with your feedback.
And, if you like what we’re doing, you can put in a good word for us here — at the Jewish-Israel Blog awards. We’re certainly not too proud to ask for your help with good PR. :)