Innovation Blog

When REAL Writers Write the News:  Innovating the Newspaper

By Shlomo Maital

 Etgar Keret, journalist 

I read the Hebrew daily newspaper Haaretz every morning, along with the International Herald Tribune.  Usually something in Haaretz makes me angry, because it is very left-wing and highly critical of Israel’s government, army and society. 

  But today, I am in awe of what landed on my doorstep.  In honor of Israel Book Week, Haaretz’s editors had a brilliant idea. What would happen if the newspaper were written by real writers, not journalists?  What if you got the best novelists and poets to write the news, editorials and even the weather? 

   The result is truly astonishing.  Writer Etgar Keret flew to Italy with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a state visit there, and came home with a scoop.  “Bibi” finally let the cat out of the bag.  “There’s no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he revealed.  No solution – ever?  Permanent state of war, forever?  Pretty depressing. Perhaps we need to find a new Prime Minister who can find a solution to the conflict that has no solution, and that in itself will be a solution.  Thanks, Etgar!

   Here is part of poet Ronny Someck’s weather forecast, translated from Hebrew by superb translator Vivien Eden:  Drops in rain language/have not yet begun to stutter in the cloud throat/ the thunder mouth is toothless/and lighting has not yet flicked the spotlights on/ in the pupil of the eye/  until the stoves are lit, sleeves will be rolled up/on the arms of the sun…..

   Maya Arad, from New York, offers a vivid and telling description of what went wrong for Dominique Strauss-Kahn: “She (the maid) refused to accept the money”.   Historical novelist Yochi Brandes, one of my favorite authors (Book of Kings 3), asks the Education Minister, “have you given up on the Bible?”  The Minister lamely puts the focus on the teachers.   And finally, Israel’s greatest living poet, Nathan Zach, writes an editorial: Gilad (Shalit) will not return.  He reminds us, “I was born in the land of the Nazis and my father committed suicide there.”  He claims, “Gilad Shalit will not return, at least not as long as our prime minister believes he has a strong majority in the coalition.”

     What an amazing, insightful, trenchant, biting, satirical, depressing, slashing, innovative, unique, and above all superbly written newspaper! How in the world will we go back to reading the dull, confusing stuff written by journalists, tomorrow and every day? 

     Hey, Haaretz.  Good job!  As the song goes, though – how ya’ gonna’ keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?!