Times of Israel Bloggers: Are You Getting Paid?

Have you ever been to a conference that cost $2.5 million to stage?

I have… just last week.

blogging for free

I wore my purple blogger's badge with pride - even with my name spelled wrong!

The Israeli President’s Conference in Jerusalem, known as the “Tomorrow” conference, was a dazzling no-expense-spared spectacle; a star-studded whos-who of Israel, the Jewish world and beyond. The conference organizers actively courted bloggers such as myself to attend the event, sending us several dozen emails making sure we were coming and making the most of the event.

I only hope that Tony Blair, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Binyamin Netanyahu or any of the other uber-VIPs in attendance didn’t mind that I came clutching my cheese-and-avocado-sandwich in a plastic lunch bag and periodically ducked out of sessions to call home and check on the kids.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer was sitting five seats away from me in a session entitled: “The World Economy: Will it Get Worse before it Gets Better?” I was totally ready to rush over to him and sycophantically gush that I am a fan of his work. But, alas, he instantaneously disappeared in a puff of VIP smoke at the conclusion of the session.

I did, however, enjoying networking with some other VIPs, including some non-profit leaders who, in my former resource development days, I would once have given my right arm to schmooze with for five minutes. Thank G-d those days are over and I can now enjoy meeting interesting people without feeling the need to hit them up for cash.

Nowadays I introduce myself as “My Name is Naomi Elbinger and I blog at MyParnasa.com, about the Jewish and spiritual perspective on business, marketing and professional development.”

I tweak that introduction depending on who I’m talking to, but that’s the basic idea.  I discussed how to introduce yourself while networking in greater depth in this post.

My intro serves it’s purpose in that people I meet often respond by asking me questions about my blog and what I do. I wonder what Stanley would have said :)

Hello, My Name is X

The President’s Conference included four special blogger sessions open exclusively to those of us wearing purple blogger badges. One of them was with New York-based Alana Newhouse, founder of the successful online Jewish magazine Tablet. Alana was impressive. In fact, her face has now taken up residence in my mind as my mental picture for the term “articulate young woman.”

The session with Alana consisted mainly of Q&A. The bloggers stood up, introduced themselves, asked their questions and then Alana answered.

But something very strange happened: about half the audience members introduced themselves as “My Name is X and I blog for the Times of Israel.” In fact after the fourth person introduced themselves that way, people were snickering and Alana quipped that maybe she should also blog for the Times of Israel.

So what’s the story with the Times of Israel and their loyal army of bloggers?

In case you are not familiar, The Times of Israel is a Israel/Jewish news site recently launched that is rapidly gaining popularity. The site is in direct competition with The Jerusalem Post (and is run mainly by former Post employees, including the former editor-in-chief) and positions itself as a kind of Jewish Huffington Post.

In a very short time, The Times of Israel has attracted over 100 bloggers that regularly publish on their site for free, using the Huffington Post-esque assumption that the very fact that your name appears on their site is payment enough.

So it was kind of ironic that it was a Times of Israel blogger who asked Alana about the prospects of earning a living from blogging. Alana responded that this was about as likely as ending up on the New York Times bestseller list if you self-publish your book. In other words… fat chance! (Note: Alana expressed it much more tactfully than I just did!)

The fact is that most bloggers make a supplementary income from their blogs at best, and some make close to nothing – and this is especially true in the Jewish niche. The difficulties in monetizing a Jewish blog were discussed extensively in this post: Can Jewish Websites Make Money?

Almost all Jewish bloggers are doing it for close-to-free, including me. We do it out of passion and sometimes a desire to help others, and for the perks it brings us. Apart from gaining me invitations to ritzy conferences, this blog has indirectly benefited me and my career in so many ways. (So thank you, dear old bloggy.)

But if that’s true, then what’s the difference between me writing my own blog or me blogging on another site? Both will earn me babkas. In fact, it is easier to blog on the Times of Israel because they do some of the hard work of bringing you your readers.

So why bother with your own blog?

Well, it all comes down to where you want to put your main investment. When you blog on someone else’s site, you are building up their site, their brand, their assets. The Huffington Post was sold to AOL for $315 million, thanks to the volunteer efforts of thousands of guest bloggers. (And no, the bloggers did not see a cent of that money!)

When you write your own blog, on the other hand, you are building an asset that you own, as well as your own name and brand. Your blog is a platform that you can use to promote yourself, your book, your products, your views, your services, your cause, or whatever you choose. The self-promotional power of blogging is severely diluted when you blog on a third-party site, because in the mind of the reader they are enjoying that site, not your writing.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against occasional blogging for free.  Submitting free guest posts to established blogs is something every smart blogger does, and if you are in the Jewish niche, the Times of Israel is a good place to submit a few guest posts. Actually I’m planning to write for them myself one day – as a former Jerusalem Post employee, it’s seems to be my destiny!

However, in my opinion, there are only 3 reasons why you would write for someone else’s blog for free:

  1. They allow you to include links, and this is valuable to the SEO of a site you are promoting
  2. It will get you attention from a wider audience and drive significant traffic back to your own blog
  3. By publishing your article there, it will have a larger or more relevant readership than it would on your own blog

What all these reasons have in common is that you are, in fact, getting paid when you write such guest posts – just not in money. Instead you are earning a SEO boost, new traffic to your blog or greater exposure for your ideas. People pay money for these benefits every day, and a guest blogger pays for them with time instead of money.

But when people contribute a regular blog for free on a platform like the Times of Israel, they have to seriously consider if this really “pays.” The platform allows you to link to your own blog in your profile and at the bottom of your posts. If you don’t use this, you are missing out on benefits 1 and 2. You might still get benefit #3, but if you are going for a large audience it’s a big waste not to let them know about your own blog while you have their attention.

And if you don’t have your own blog to promote, well then obviously you haven’t thought very hard about where this is taking you. Every post you write without a link in it is throwing a chance to build up your own brand down the drain. And if you are writing for them regularly, you probably don’t have time to build up your own blog anyway.

Are You a Walking Billboard?

But what struck me as most strange about the Times of Israel blogger crowd at the President’s Conference is that they introduced themselves as “My Name is X and I blog for the Times of Israel.”

Heck, they even got up in front of Alana Newhouse, a major personality in online Jewish publishing, and instead of promoting their own identity and brand, instead of letting her know about their own blog, business or cause, they promoted the Times of Israel.

It reminds me of folks who wear clothing emblazoned with brand logos, like “Nike” or “Esprit,” not considering that in buying and wearing such a shirt they become walking billboards for the brands of multinational corporation – and they are paying top dollar to perform this volunteer work.

Think again, people! Blogging on the Times of Israel, or the Huffington Post, or any other blog where you write for free is a means unto the ends, not the goal.

These sites benefit when you submit your content, but how are you getting paid in return?

They are profit-making businesses, so why are you paying them to let you advertise them?

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Comments

  1. Hi. My name is Yocheved Golani and I blog at http://itsmycrisisandillcryifineedto.blogspot.co.il/. I write about how to improve YOUR health and how to lower your medical expenses with this book http://booklocker.com/books/3067.html.

    WOW do I catch flak from people who consider me criminal for promoting my own work. What on earth caused so many Social Media mavens to dislike self-promotion? Why do the Gen 3.0 critics want all of us to publicize someone other than themselves? Did anyone consider it immoral when the pre-Internet owners of stores staffed their own phones and cash registers let alone made their own commercials?

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    That’s funny, Yocheved!
    I don’t think this is just a Gen 3.0 phenomenon. I think many people feel they have more credibility if they associate their name with a bigger brand. Kind of like “My name is Naomi and I write for the New York Times,” only nothing like that!

    [Reply]

    Abbi Reply:

    Yocheved, there are tactful and less tactful ways of promoting your brand and blog. If you get in people’s faces and their only experience/impression of you is self-promotion, no, they’re not going to like it. This particularly goes for comment sections on blogs. If other commenters sense you’re just their to promote yourself, you will not be appreciated. It’s all about etiquette.

    [Reply]

  2. Hi , my name is Hava and i am the editor in chief of EVE-MAGAZINE.com. An online, bilingual magazine/blog, aimed at Anglos and French communities in Israel, furthermore…people interested to discover the « trendy side » of Israel. On EVE Magazine you read Editorials on Beauty, Design, Fashion, Restaurants, Bars, Lounges, Clubs, Exhibits, Events, Special places and unique people…. A Photo Gallery….. Videos….. News…. And Tutorials…. We launched it about 2 months ago, yet we do plan on selling ad space + editorials, we use links exchange , have partners, to boost our SEO, but also gain exposure and recognition. Follow up with us, to find out how it works to sell ads on our blog platform. I find your articles very interesting! yet i disagree with not making any profit other then free tickets to posh events! with your blog! a friend of mine uses her blog to get paid ads, and to get new clients. But i Do agree with you on the “hello my name is X and i work for..” ??? Marketing! communication!! Promotion! for YOURSELVES! this is not a SIN!

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Sounds great Hava. Wishing you lots of luck with Eve Magazine!

    [Reply]

    hava benhaim Reply:

    Thank You Naomi! wishing you all the best as well!!! i really enjoy reading your posts! keep on the great work!! your topics and writing make it very pleasant and interesting to read!! and SHARE!
    Shabat shalom!

    [Reply]

    Yocheved Golani Reply:

    Hava I’m so pleased to read your remarks. I just sent you a feature story proposal. The message is a direct result of learning about you and your site here in this forum.

    Face your medical problems with dignity.
    Face your future with optimism.

    Yocheved Golani
    View my LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/yochevedgolaniink
    http://twitter.com/yochevedgolani
    http://itsmycrisisandillcryifineedto.blogspot.com/

    Author of It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge

    Find me on Facebook! http://tinyurl.com/36fqch3

    [Reply]

  3. I missed meeting you and I really enjoyed the conference, and especially Alana’s session.

    As to your question, I agree that I would not blog for free on a regular basis like that, without even a link available. However, I think the reason they do it, though perhaps one of them would/should weigh in and explain, is to gain credibility. If I stand up and say “Hi, My name is Rafi and I blog for Life in Israel blog”. So everyone looks at me, wonders what that is, and I am basically a nobody. Saying I blog for the Huffington Post, or I blog for the Times Of Israel makes the person look credible and respectable. And it is more than just the momentary respect they might get – afterwards if they are looking to blog for an organization on a salary (or a different paid position) – they see a difference between saying “I blog for the times of israel” and between saying “I blog for life in israel”.

    Even though they arent getting paid, they see the personal credibility as payment of sorts.

    Thats my guess.

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    I definitely hear your point, but I’m sure that when you introduce your blog, you can add a few words about what makes your blog unique. If the person you are speaking to is in your target market, there is a good chance they will show interest in your blog.
    On the other hand, if you say that you blog for the Times of Israel, you have done little to promote yourself, and have only promoted them. What’s the point of networking if you’re not promoting yourself?
    I guess in a job interview it might be different, but I happen to think that your own blog looks amazing on your resume, especially if you are applying for jobs related to the your blog topic or marketing/web/writing/pr/etc.

    [Reply]

    Hannah @A Mother in Israel Reply:

    But Rafi, what credibility is there in writing for TOI, if pretty much anyone can do it? At least if someone goes to your blog, they can see by your traffic, comments and posts that you have an audience. I don’t think it’s even easy to find a specific blogger on TOI, and it seems to me that they don’t help much with promotion.

    [Reply]

    Rafi G. Reply:

    because I think most people don’t know that. I didnt until I looked into blogging for them (I decided not to for the very reasons described in Naomi’s article).

    I think they think that just saying you write for the times of israel automatically gives them credibility. If I said in my resume or on an interview that I write for the New York Times (lets say they gave me a free blog column), you dont see how I might think that might impress people and they would automatically think I am a good writer and a competent blogger, just because of my association with a respectable organization? They will generally have no idea that I was not paid, that nobody looked into me prior to giving me the column or anything similar…

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    It’s interesting that the NY Times allows it’s bloggers to brand their own blogs (as well as paying them… presumably :)) This allows the bloggers to develop their brand and their following while still blogging for someone else – e.g. Motherlode http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/
    The Times of Israel treats blog posts like any other content on their site and does not encourage loyalty to that blogger’s brand. e.g. you can’t follow just that blog on Twitter or subscribe to it via email.

  4. Excellent post! I have been wondering/struggling with the same thing. I felt like one of a very small minority of bloggers at the Presidents Conference that didn’t go to write for TOI.

    I debated initially about going over to TOI, at least part-time, and for the same reasons you list – perhaps I’ll be discovered.

    But I’ve been working on my personal ‘brand’ (or ‘baby’) for over eight years now. I like where it’s come. And it’s taught me a lot.

    Maybe I will start submitting articles here and there… I do feel I’m reaching a point in my life where I want my writing habit to become more.

    But… yes. I think about the points you mention here… a lot.

    [Reply]

  5. Great topic for discussion and I’m really glad someone shared this post on Facebook. Full self-disclosure “My name is Jen Maidenberg. I am a blogger for the Times of Israel, her competitor The Jerusalem Post, and for imadealiyah.wordpress.com, thewellnessbitch.com, and jenmaidenberg.com.” I wrote a post recently in which I claim to be one of the first PAID bloggers. http://jenmaidenberg.com/2012/06/07/virgin-bloggers-are-cute/

    What I wrote on my friends FB thread is this:
    I think for the sake of conversation you need to clarify between writers who blog, and bloggers. I don’t think all bloggers deserve to be paid because I don’t think the quality of their writing is worth getting paid for UNLESS they bring something else to the table. ie. They have a significant following and drive traffic to the site. And in that case, they’re likely marketing something else (ie. their services or themselves as a personal brand) and the “payment” so to speak is in the visibility they receive through the blog.

    [Reply]

  6. (sniff, sniff) and I wasn’t invited… :)

    Really insightful blog post. right on the mark, nail on the head!

    Blogging for others is good. I write for free all the time. but the purpose is to give good info WHILE promoting your product or service- that’s the trade-ff for working for “free” not just your name in (virtual) print!

    [Reply]

  7. I blog at A Soldier’s Mother – and the same blog (or some of them) also appear on two other large Jewish news sites – The Jewish Press and Arutz 7. I’m not paid directly for any of this work – but my goal is not money (though, hey, if y’all wanna click on the ads on my site, please do). The goal is exposure.

    I’ve been paid – worked as a paid journalist before making aliyah. Now, I make my living in technical writing and use the blogging world as a means of exposing my “story” and my opinions and I find absolutely that there is a reciprocity in both links and traffic. I would guess that while the majority of bloggers for the Times of Israel and other sites wouldn’t mind making a living or earning money from their writings there, most understand that isn’t the goal.

    If you want money – find another profession (as I did). Can you make money off the Internet? Yes, you can. Rich? Not likely. Can you get your views known? Absolutely. Can you build a following – a successful one that gets your agenda out there? Absolutely. If that is your goal, Times of Israel, Jewish Press, Jerusalem Post, etc. offer you an advantage that your own blog may not. You can try to build your branding and maybe you’ll succeed. Chances are – TOI, etc. offer you a faster trip.

    In my case, they came to me because I had an established readership – but my readership seems to be sticking to my blog and not going there to read my stuff…while when I post there, I get my readership, plus more.

    And one more thing – I’ve had my blog mentioned in the New York Times and the London Guardian – bringing in over 10,000 visitors a day for a while…were they the visitors I wanted? Honestly, no…I was actually relieved when readership fell back down to my loyal group of friends and readers (with the occasional disgruntled reader/commenter adding some anti-Israel commentary to keep things lively, of course).

    In short – there are plenty of reasons to blog for free – and for the Times of Israel, Jewish Press, etc. – the question you have to ask yourself first, though, is what you are trying to accomplish by blogging?

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Hi Paula, it was great seeing you at the conference and thanks for sharing you opinion, as one of our community’s successful blogging veterans (no pun intended :)). Can I ask you, what if someone wanted to create a blog community like yours today? They could reach their audience much faster through the TOI. But after a few years of hard work they would own nothing. Their blog wouldn’t even have a name. Meanwhile, the TOI will be benefiting big-time from their talent and hard work.
    Like I said in my post, I’m not against guest blogging for free, so long as it is helping you achieve some specific goal, like building up your own blog or promoting something specific.

    [Reply]

    A Soldier's Mother Reply:

    But Naomi, that is exactl my point. We disagree on something fundamental. Each of the people on these community blogging sites DOES have a name. In my case, A Soldier’s Mother lives on Arutz 7 AND on The Jewish Press – and more than that, the name Paula Stern is there too…so I can blog and blog and blog…and then, when I want my own site – I can launch that too. Because most of the places where you blog for free recognize you are giving them value – and more than that, recognize that by your name becoming better known, WHEN you start your own site – it may bring them more recognition if you continue.

    Do I get readers from the Jewish Press…or do people recognize my name and read my stuff on the Jewish Press because I’ve already gained a measure of recognition? It is most definitely a two-way road. I’ve had many people stop me and say they’ve seen my recent article on the Jewish Press or Arutz 7…and yes, sometimes from there, they click to my site and read even more.

    If the Times of Israel and other sites were asking you to join their staff and write anonymously, I’d agree with you. But they aren’t doing that – why do those people stand up and say, “I’m so and so and I write for the Times of Israel” or whatever – because they recognize that these sites are pulling people in – and when they get there – the blogger’s name IS being recognized.

    If you have your own site and no one goes there – you won’t earn any money (if that is your goal) and you won’t really be getting readers and attention (if that is your goal). When you start out on a known site – you gain because people have respect for these sites and so have respect for your name. The name recognition value is immense and on one can take that away from you…it is, after all, your name. I am A Soldier’s Mother – no matter where my writing is posted, no matter what I am paid or not, that is my identity – putting it on another site doesn’t devalue it or me – rather, it makes it more well know. And, on occasion, in a post I make, I refer to another post on my blog – and that too brings them back…but this time not to somewhere else on the catalogue site but TO MY SITE…

    [Reply]

  8. Shalom Naomi,

    First and foremost, another excellent post. You know I am a fan. But I do want to say something on this…

    Until recently, I worked for a small company that had a blog, but also had a web developer who had a stranglehold on the site. I saw that I wasn’t getting much traffic on our company blog, so I started doing guest posts. As a result, my traffic and conversion rates went up! :)

    The Times of Israel INVITED me to blog for them back in February 2012. For various personal and professional reason, I could not write for them at that time. I saw that bloggers were invited to our beloved “#Tomorrow12″ and I thought, “I wonder if I can swing this now. ”

    So, basically, TOI “bought” my ticket to a conference that I probably would not have been able to attend otherwise. As a show of respect and appreciation, I will definitely be writing for them shortly (stay tuned!).

    That being said,I think that new bloggers should definitely work on their own branding and their own content ( in order to protect intellectual property as well). Also, back in February, I thought that I had been specially invited to blog, so I was a little annoyed to hear that the rest of the Jewish world was also blogging on TOI too….

    However, I met some of the most wonderful people at Israeli Presidential Conference, both personally and professionally. I wouldn’t give up that experience for anything and I was truly blessed to be there. I also hope to be there again next year.

    My point is that, yes, it is important to blog under your own name/space. However, if the Huffington Post or the TOI gives a voice to someone who needs a place to write or just to get started, then I think that is still valuable.

    [Reply]

  9. One more comment – I was approached to attend the President’s Conference. I didn’t ask to attend. I work hard at keeping my blog – that’s my “job.” What was incredibly impressive to me – and was a measure of the bloggers, not the Times of Israel or any other blog collection site, was the tremendous respect bloggers were given there by the President’s Conference, Elie Klein, and Finn Partners. We were given full press rights – probably for the first time in my memory. Our bloggers tag were full Press tags and allowed us to get into full sessions that were closed to others. I think this tells you the value of blogging and puts this respect in the hands of the regular person.

    Not eveyrone can write for CNN (not that I’d want to) or BBC (sorry, I can’t lie enough for that) – but I got the same access or close to it, to the main sessions…I got to ask President Peres about Jonathan Pollard; got to ask Yossi Vardi a question and more…

    That respect is also something that comes from donating your work…free or not….we got paid by attending this conference and we paid them back by writing about it. And unlike the BBC/CNN reporters, we had completel freedom to write what we want, pick the stories we wanted to tell (one blogger wrote about the tremendous lack of Israeli flags there); I wrote several posts, including the moment I got to personally thank Gabi Ashkenazi for watching over our sons during the Gaza War. You can’t pay for some of these experiences.

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Agreed Paula. That was fun, right? One thing I learned – a good place to network at a conference is the “press” line at the registration desk!

    [Reply]

  10. It is probably due to the fact that these people blog for the Times of Israel that they were invited to the conference. I doubt most others without that connect would get the invite.

    [Reply]

    A Soldier's Mother Reply:

    Um…I don’t blog for the Times of Israel, nor do most of the bloggers I knew at the conference. The ones that do are the relatively new ones and I would venture to guess, less well known. Raffi G was there, israelMatsav was there, Mother in israel, Jewlicious, Israellycool (I’m probably butchering the spelling but I have to go make a vegetable platter for my daughter’s school) and a lot more. Naomi doesn’t blog for them, and many, many others. One blogger was even brought in from outside Israel- because they run a popular, conservative, pro-Israel blog.

    [Reply]

    Liza Rosenberg Reply:

    I received an invitation via email months ago, but wasn’t able to attend. I’ve got no connection to TOI, and even though I’ve had my own blog for seven years, I rarely blog about Israel-related topics anymore. I just assumed that I was on a list somewhere, either for bloggers or freelance writers/local journalists.

    [Reply]

  11. When the bloggers got up to identify themselves they probably felt they had to mention TOI as they were presumably invited because they blogged there.
    It certainly gives many bloggers more exposure being on their website than just on their own blogs and I guess many readers still find their way to the individual blogs afterwards if they’re interested.

    Blogging for TOI isn’t a full time occupation – they have plenty of time for their own blogs / websites, professions etc as well – this is just extra ( and probably plenty of extra) exposure and helps build their brand / platform.

    Personally I had no sympathy whatsoever for the whiners at Huff Post, who, as soon as they realized how much it was being sold for, started complaining that they were never paid. When you work for zilch you have to have your reasons – and there are plenty of good ones – but don’t come back later to complain.

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Most of the “whiners” from the Huff Post are probably people who spent hours blogging for them without any real goal and without receiving anything in return. Later on they woke up and realized that they had been busy volunteering to build someone else’s corporate empire, and that’s when they started whining. It’s exactly that situation and that attitude that this post strives to prevent, by creating awareness among bloggers that there are benefits to guest blogging and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of them. And at the same time, it’s important to set limits on what you give away for free…

    [Reply]

  12. I read this with a great deal of interest, including all the comments. I asked for a blog at TOI for the exposure. I can cite my blog there as another writing credit. I don’t write there very often, but I had one entry go viral. It’s excellent exposure for me and I do believe it drew people to my personal blog. Both blogs, the one on TOI, and my personal blog languish from inattention most of the time. I’m too busy with my paying work to have the time to blog on a regular basis.

    As a TOI blogger, I could have gone to the Presidential Conference and didn’t because 1) Martin Sherman said it would be tantamount to aiding and abetting the continued incarceration of Jonathan Pollard. Peres should have turned down the Medal of Freedom when the US refused to release Pollard. According to Sherman, anyone who attended his conference was putting their imprimatur on his actions. I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

    2) I’m too busy doing menial scut work to pay my bills to take off that many days to sit around and attend a conference–which is the same reason my blogging habit is less than regular. When I blog, you can be sure it’s because I have no paying work at the moment, or because I just got overtaken by the creative spirit and something just poured out of me.

    I don’t really have another way to make money and be an eizer knegdo other than menial outsourcing writing jobs or web content mill work. You all talk about other work. I don’t have a college degree and I’m sanguine about my job prospects. In a good month, I can pay the rent with my menial writing jobs.

    [Reply]

    A Soldier's Mother Reply:

    Varda, It’s a shame you didn’t go. Had you gone, had you attended the Blogger’s session with Shimon Peres, you would have heard me get up and ask him about Jonathan Pollard and tell him, in front of everyone there, that I thought he should have accepted the medal of freedom on Wednesday, said thank, you…and then given it to Jonathan Pollard on Thursday. And I asked him what Israel could do to change the situation. By not attending, you let your silence talk….but most people don’t listen to silence, they ignore it. The action WAS at the President’s Conference and by being there, we raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard, we raised the issue of the rockets hitting Israel, and when during one panel they kept talking about the settlers, we were there to cheer when Naftali Bennet said, “we aren’t settlers, we are PEOPLE.”

    With all due respect to Martin Sherman – raising Jonathan Pollard’s name in the middle of a blogger conference was much better than just not showing up and assuming people would a) notice you weren’t there and b) tie in your not being there to Jonathan Pollard.

    As for taking the time and finding time to write – it’s an individual thing. Sometimes, I need to write enough not to sleep; sometimes, I need to sleep more.

    [Reply]

    Varda Epstein Reply:

    1) My choice not to attend the conference was not silent because I publicized my choice. I also publicized Martin Sherman’s article on the subject.
    2) I’m not sure that confronting your host at his conference made much of a difference. Probably some people thought you were rude while others nodded their heads in agreement. But Jonathan is still in jail.

    [Reply]

    A Soldier's Mother Reply:

    With all due respect, do you think that if no one showed up at Shimon Peres’ conference – Jonathan Pollard would be free? That’s seriously absurd. Where did you publicize your position re Pollard (I don’t see it on TOI or on your blog – was it written somewhere else? In any case, the reaction of the majority of the bloggers there – as I saw on Twitter and heard from people there was positive and they felt it was a good thing that Pollard was mentioned rather than there being silence on the issue. I don’t think I was rude, nor did Peres or anyone else. He answered – crummy answer because what could he say, but he confirmed that he’d brought it up with Obama and asked for Pollard’s release on humanitarian grounds – and he mentioned Pollard’s having served longer that the sentence required, that his health was failing, etc. – all good things to have in writing, in the president’s voice. Had I mentioned Peres’ role in Jonathan’s captivity, perhaps I could be accused of being rude to my “host”, but I phrased the question politely, adding my recommendation for what he should have done with the medal of freedom and asked what Israel could do. I would argue that my mentioning Pollard got more attention than a few people not attending

  13. No. I don’t think my attendance at the conference would have freed Jonathan Pollard. I also don’t think he would be free because you spoke out at the conference.

    I publicized my position to my Facebook following. That means that it reaches a core group of people who will then share it with their core groups. Social networking, dontcha know. Circles within circles.

    I never meant to suggest you were rude. However, Peres was your host. So technically, you’re confronting your host when you criticize his behavior. So I imagine that among the people sitting there listening to your question and the president’s response were some who probably thought you were rude, and others who simply nodded and agreed with you.

    My main point is that I’m not sure whose approach had a stronger impact: my own, which involved spreading my viewpoint on Facebook, or your own, which involved confronting the president at the conference. I’m not sure this can be quantified.

    Meantime, I had three more working days this month.

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  14. Yup, this is what I do when something is on my mind – Grace and Respect http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/grace-and-respect.html

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    Deena Reply:

    Varda, I don’t think Paula (A Soldier’s Mom) was rude at all and I honestly don’t think that asking a somewhat straightforward question was an issue at all. And, btw, don’t worry too much about Peres. He has all his fluffy answers prepared ahead. It’s like he was waiting for that question and he gave his prepared answer and that was that.

    Peres supposedly wants there to be real discussion at his conference so I don’t think we need to worry about bringing up difficult issues, especially the way Paula did it. I really appreciated that she brought it up even if it felt a little like talking to, well, cotton candy. But at least it was said!

    Either way, I don’t know what the problem is here. Varda davka didn’t go and Paula davka did. Each did what seemed right for them and both decisions have benefits and drawbacks.

    The end…

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    Naomi Reply:

    I’m with you Deena! Thanks for sharing.

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    Varda Epstein Reply:

    I’m with both of you. I NEVER said nor do I think Paula was rude. I don’t have any “problem.” I think my remarks are being misinterpreted. My main point is that I don’t think it much mattered whether or not I attended the conference. I made my views known through other channels. And I got a lot of paying work done during the time others attended the conference.

    Deena Reply:

    Not to be a total show-off but so did I. My boss was happy for us to go to as much of the conference as we wanted. As my coworker said, it was like a really cheap yet very well planned yom kef. :)

  15. I’m a blogger and I run my own blogs, shiloh musings and me-ander. http://shilohmusings.blogspot.co.il/ http://shilohmusings.blogspot.co.il/
    I also have blogging rights on Times of Israel and Arutz 7. Arutz 7 lets me copy my blog posts and link to them. TOI insists on original posts and has deleted some of mine for the crime of linking “too much” to my own blog. I haven’t blogged there for quite a while. I just don’t have the time to write so many articles/posts. Yes, the posts are articles. I have a life off of the computer and I have a job, too.

    Demanding orginal posts without paying is like expecting us bloggers to work for free.
    I blog to get my message across, which I do on my blogs, privately run blogs. I even invite guests to post, and there are a few people who can blog whenever they want.

    There’s a big difference between bloggers who blog on their own blogs and those who blog on newspapers only.

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    Deena Reply:

    Demanding?

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    Batya Reply:

    yes, that’s a minimal condition by them
    and if you don’t play by the rules, your post will be deleted

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    Elie Leshem, Times of Israel Ops & Blogs Editor Reply:

    Batya, you’re being disingenuous, and I’m only revealing this here because you’re making false accusations against us: We took down one of your posts because you were using your blog as a bulletin board to advertise an event, and another because it was 55 words long.

    Bloggers, including Batya of course, are welcome to post whatever they want, as often as they want, as long as it’s original and it isn’t defamatory, an ad, or embarrassing.

    We are acutely aware of the fact that other than that, we can make no demands of anyone who isn’t being paid.

    Naomi Reply:

    Elie… I knew you’d come out of the woodwork eventually :).
    Thanks so much for your comment. Your perspective, as the Times of Israel Blogs editor, is very important in this discussion. If you’d like to write a fuller response to the concerns raised in this discussion, we would definitely love to hear it.

  16. Hi Naomi,
    You make such a good point and thank you for voicing it so honestly. I am totally tempted to add this to my review of the conference that I wrote up on The Big Felafel (http://ow.ly/bPbu7) about how the future of Israel will look according to the president’s conference. The future will be run by The Times of Israel bloggers…..

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    Naomi Reply:

    I love your post Rebecca. It’s hilarious!

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    Judy Montel Reply:

    I love Rebecca’s post as well – but I was seriously bummed out when she said that crying didn’t work. Waddaya mean crying doesn’t work? Crying has to work! Waaaahh!

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  17. Naomi — Mazel tov on making such viral waves with this fascinating post. Here’s my 2 cents on life in the blogging lane.

    Since I don’t have enough time to maintain my own personal blog, I subscribe to the theory of donating my blogging services to others in exchange for access to my target audience, which in my case are the PR folks at architectural, engineering, and construction firms, mostly U.S.-based. As an architectural/building and healthcare industry writer, who contributes to several industry trade magazines, I choose to share some inside editorial advice with my PR counterparts, who are seeking media coverage of their recent building projects, design innovations and architectural accomplishments. In exchange, I get my name out there and occasionally receive ghostwriting jobs. In fact, a couple of my blogs were picked up by Ragan.com and Sarah Evans Commentz round-up, including “10 Ways to Keep the Media Coming Back for More” and “10 Ways to Get Quoted in the Media” — http://www.bhbennett.com/articles.html (left side, scroll down for links).

    My other blogging gig is part of my contract with Healthcare Building Ideas. Recently, the magazine decided to shift some of my regular contribution content to web news and blogs, to help build up their traffic. With that goal in mind, I try to come up with blog posts which are most interesting and relevant to the magazine’s readers, such as this one: “Men in Glass Elevators Don’t Have Babies” — http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/blogs/barbara-horwitz-bennett/men-glass-elevators-do-not-have-babies.

    [Reply]

    Judy Montel Reply:

    As I’m still an aspiring blogger (too ignorant to even DO it yet!), could you explain what the specific definition of “viral” means and how you and Naomi can gauge this?

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    Naomi Reply:

    HI Judy,
    “Viral” means that it got shared a lot on social media and as a result got a lot of traffic via social media.

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  18. melanie says:

    Naomi, I just need to say I love your writing and I love this blog. Regular reader, long time fan xxx

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  19. Hey, Naomi. I saw you in a surprising place this morning. How about updating this blog?

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    Naomi Reply:

    Thanks Varda! today i posted an blog on the Times of Israel, just like I said I planned to in this post!
    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-7-habits-of-highly-effective-schnorrers/

    [Reply]

  20. I’m thinking of closing the comments on this post. It’s getting all too contentious for the likes of me.

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  21. I’m not a blogger, but I must say that I found Naomi’s original blog entry about the conference and the conversation that followed absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the insights into the blogging world.

    [Reply]

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