What I’m Burning About: Newsweek

This past week, the following article appeared in Newsweek discussing a growing problem of alcohol abuse among Orthodox Jews: http://www.newsweek.com/id/150497/.

Now, I don’t mean to sound like Jim Rome, but I am little irritated.  Whether or not there is a problem, I cannot say, but what bothers me is the quality of the article’s journalism (or lack thereof).  Just a couple of points that bothered me:

  • The article opens with a story of a guy who was driving drunk.  The pathos is ridiculous, but one case of a Jew driving drunk in the Catskills cannot possibly represent a large population.  Besides, if he really is Orthodox, is he so drunk that he’s driving on Saturday, when Orthodox Jews do not drive?  In any case, once telling the story, the article never establishes that this type of thing happens often enough to make it a real problem.
  • Are we talking about Orthodox Jews or not?  The article goes out of its way several times to mention Orthodox Jews specifically.  If we’re talking about Orthodox Jews, most of their “studies” don’t seem to focus on them.  If not, how relevant are kiddish clubs and the Orthodox Union in the larger Jewish demographic?
  • They use “Israelis younger than 33” and “Russian immigrants in Israel” to make statements about Jews in general, seemingly in the United States.  What the hell?!  That’s like studying Buddhists Nepal in order to write an article about Buddhists in Arkansas.  It just doesn’t work.
  • Are you really trying to tell me that college students drinking demonstrates large trends throughout the population?  Come on!  When the older generation was that age, they were tripping on LSD at Woodstock, and you’re telling us that today’s college students show that the younger generation drinks more?  Give me a break.

A more accurate study would first decide who the hell it’s studying, look at a representative sample and then make conclusions.  It seems like when she wrote the article Lisa Miller (Jewish?) first decided what she was going to say and then looked for evidence that would support her claim, which it unequivocally does not.

Again, maybe Jews are now drinking more than ever, but Lisa Miller’s article doesn’t convince me.  Just another great example of terrible journalism.

That’s why The Midnight Toker’s first ever Brainfart of the Week Award goes to (drumroll…) Lisa Miller and Newsweek for their lack of journalistic professionalism.  Keep up the good work.

I’m out and that’s what I’m burning about,

Toke

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2 Comments

Filed under Brainfart of the Week, In the News, What I'm Burining About

2 responses to “What I’m Burning About: Newsweek

  1. Avi

    Maybe all these drunk-driving Jews have been drinking too much Israeli wine.

  2. Chani

    Interesting. I actually have a friend who’s studying alcohol abuse in the Jewish community (he’s getting demographic information about his sample) for his doctoral thesis. It’ll be a few years before he has any data though.

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