May 31, 2022 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) and The E.W. Scripps Company have partnered to combat antisemitism in the United States. 160 Scripps employees, including news directors and reporters, participated in two training sessions led by AJC staff experts on antisemitism and media.
“Journalists who recognize antisemitism are more effective in covering incidents targeting Jews, and in ensuring their audiences gain a better understanding of this age-old hatred that again is on the rise, threatening society at large,” said Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism. She has led similar training sessions for a number of government agencies. This was the first antisemitism training for a national media company.
“It’s important for our journalists across the country to understand antisemitism and to be equipped to report on it for our audiences,” Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson said. “Scripps works hard to give its journalists the tools and best practices they need to appropriately cover tough and complex issues. We’re fortunate to have the American Jewish Committee’s team share its expertise.”
Joining Huffnagle in the training sessions were Manya Brachear Pashman, host of AJC’s podcast “People of the Pod” and former religion reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and Avi Mayer, AJC managing director of public affairs and senior spokesperson.
“In my three years working for American Jewish Committee, I have learned so much that I wish I had known when I covered religion on a daily basis,” Brachear Pashman said. “There are so many misconceptions, tropes and sensitivities that I overlooked. This is an opportunity to address that information gap for other journalists.”
Findings of AJC’s third annual State of Antisemitism in America Report, based on parallel surveys of the American Jewish and general public populations, were presented to illustrate the severity of the problem in the U.S. Translate Hate, AJC’s widely used glossary of commonly used antisemitic terms and tropes, and other AJC resources were used to deepen understanding of various forms and sources of antisemitism historically and in current use.
AJC’s 2021 antisemitism report revealed that 90% of American Jews considered antisemitism a problem today in the U.S., while 60% of the general public agreed. The survey also showed that 39% of American Jews had changed their behavior out of fear of antisemitism.
Further, about one-third of Americans over the age of 18 said they are not familiar with the term “antisemitism.” There are 65% who have heard of it, 18% have heard it but are unsure what it means, and 16% have never heard of the term.
Journalists, broadcasters and other Scripps employees participating in the AJC training were able to better understand:
-- The role of media in shaping public perceptions of Jews and Judaism, including empowering journalists to effectively cover a story if the person interviewed says something antisemitic.
-- The range of antisemitic conspiracies, tropes and symbols, and, importantly, the multiple sources of antisemitism emanating from the right, left and religious extremists.
-- Tools and best practices for reporting about Jewish issues, including antisemitism.
For more than 115 years, AJC, the premier global Jewish advocacy organization, has raised awareness about understanding antisemitism, identifying hate incidents targeting Jews, and providing guidance to national, state and local authorities on how to respond to antisemitism, including bringing to justice perpetrators of hate crimes.
The E.W. Scripps Company is one of the nation’s largest local TV broadcasters. Scripps operates a portfolio of 61 stations in 41 markets. The Scripps Networks reach nearly every American through the national news outlets Court TV and Newsy and popular entertainment brands ION, Bounce, Defy TV, Grit, ION Mystery, Laff and TrueReal. Scripps is the nation’s largest holder of broadcast spectrum. Scripps runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and is the longtime steward of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”