Photo: Einstein’s Visit to the United States
By Yonatan Gordon
A few weeks ago I decided to conduct a social experiment. I contacted independent TEDx lecture organizers throughout Israel, asking if they were accepting speaking proposals. Having heard that TED stays away from religion, I didn’t mention that my proposed talk was grounded in Jewish thought.
While I didn’t get to the proposal submission stage, I did learn an important lesson. Although the topic was received with excitement – the decentralized topography of networks – I decided that including explicit mention of Jewish though was a deal-breaker for me. Even though the video would have a chance to reach thousands, I decided it would be better to sit down a Jewish market article instead.
Recently I wrote a series about Simon Sinek’s TED video, “How great leaders inspire action.” The video is currently the 3rd most watched on TED with over 17 million views, and in my two articles, I explained how to improve upon what was presented there. But whereas Simon has a successful book, website, speaking and consulting business around the ideas presented in that lecture, so far no one has come knocking on my door.
What’s the difference? One factor is that Simon is an engaging speaker and knows how to articulate himself well. But I’d like to suggest another reason. That unlike secular material that lacks context, a place to hold and further develop these ideas, content that overtly mentions Jewish thought is heavily laden with it.
The task of promoting material for a Jewish content outlet is much different than that of the secular counterparts. Instead of promoting content for traffic and social media shares, we have a unique opportunity to place current events and hot topics into context. While this may not make Jewish-content presses the most trafficked sites and subscribed-to publications today, unlike secular media outlets, Jewish outlets have the potential to provide lasting results for the readers. No matter how exciting or novel a headline may seem today, a day, week, or month from now something else will replace it.
While placing current events within the landscape of Torah may not make for the most viral article today it is only this approach that has true long-term potential to become widespread. As more people seek to understand the headlines, the desire to leave the latest story with some long-lasting benefit increases; and the more Jewish-content publications and sites will become the destination of choice.
These thoughts also help us promote an “on the derech” approach to life. Although secular lifestyle may seem exciting it lacks substance. Like the TED video, bestselling book, etc… while it may sell today the challenge is in keeping it relevant tomorrow. While the speaker or author may have caught on to a good idea, since these ideas weren’t included within the contextual landscape of the Torah, then no matter how exciting today, the question remains on the idea’s relevance tomorrow.
What makes a press Jewish is not in the ability to appear similar to well-known secular news outlets, but in the inclusion of eternal truths within the temporality of the passing daily headlines.