Tag Archives: journalism

Joy and Pain

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These last few weeks have left me a bit empty emotionally and creatively, which is why this post is late. The excitement of being able to think about a future after COVID has given way to anxiety about when to wear a mask, how to travel safely, whether to travel at all, how to begin to re-enter the world. It’s all pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Added to the mix is the excitement and joy that my daughter has finally landed her dream job and will be moving back across the country to Los Angeles. It’s a complicated endeavor that needs to be completed in a scant few weeks and involves a cross country driving trip (my husband will be doing that), finding a place to live and getting her stuff moved. And professionally, let’s just say it’s been complicated. As a newspaper editor and reporter for a Jewish publication, the escalation of violence in Israel and the current ceasefire have meant difficult information to sift through and report while I watch unfolding misery on both sides. And finally, this last weekend saw an ugly and painful display of antisemitism in my city brought on by one woman who used a yellow star as a symbol of being unvaccinated.

To unpack some of this, I’ll first focus on my daughter because her situation is one that brings me joy and relief. Last summer during the height of the pandemic, she lost her job. Since then she has pieced together a living, often working two and three jobs, while applying for and interviewing for something in her field. I watched her bravely persevere and overcome worry while dealing with grief and anger, most of the time with a smile on her face. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her resilience and courage.

As for the COVID pandemic, I guess I’m doing what most people are doing and trying to take baby steps to rejoin the living. As an extrovert in normal times, I’m surprised by how exhausted I feel at the effort it takes to make and execute simple plans. I feel overwhelmed at choosing a restaurant, preferring to either cook at home or order in. There are a few local places that have wrapped us in comfort the last year and a half (thanks to the crew at answer.) and it feels so much easier to just do that. But we are venturing out a bit and when we do, I feel almost normal. I’ve said, “hello,” to some clothes I haven’t worn in a long time, praying everything still fits (thankfully, so far, it all does). I have two short trips planned this summer and a big trip in the Fall. I’m anxious about traveling, but also looking forward to the change of scenery.

My professional challenges are more difficult to explore. As a journalist I’ve been trained to look at as many sides of an issue as possible, to be fair in analyzing and presenting the facts and to be balanced in my coverage. Lately though, the rising antisemitism in this country and around the world has shaken me. I am, after all, a Jew in America, raised to love Israel by parents who watched and prayed as the tiny country was born over 70 years ago out of the ashes of the Holocaust. My father-in-law was a survivor of German ghettos, concentration camps and death marches. The last trip he took before his early death at age 52 was to visit Israel, to experience the joy and relief at a Jewish homeland.

I traveled to Israel for the first time as a 15-year-old teen and have visited a few times since, watching the country grow from a developing land into a high tech, modern day marvel. Is it perfect? No. Did growth come at a high price? Most definitely. Does it deserve both criticism and admiration for the choices made in the face of daily existential threat? Absolutely. But since when does criticizing your country render you unpatriotic or worse, guilty of some sort of treason? I was raised to question, to voice my opinion, to push back against injustice, to challenge the status quo, and that includes my views about Israel. But make no mistake, I am a Zionist, I am fully committed to its existence as the only Democratic country in the Middle East. And that democracy demands that I speak up and speak out. I do not pretend to understand what it is like to live with constant threat, rockets and bombs. And there is certainly plenty of misery to go around on both sides.

And now I turn to the antisemitism infecting my own city. The pain I felt when I saw a local shopkeeper peddling the yellow star of David, emblazoned with, “not vaccinated,” to an often uninformed public, was immediate and deep. My stomach turned over as I read with horror the words in the social media comments. My community’s response was fast and direct, spreading to the greater Nashville area and reaching the pages and airways of national news outlets. Most of the woman’s vendors have stopped their supply of merchandise to her store and have made their outrage known. It has been both gratifying and comforting to know there are many people who were also reviled by the post. But the pain lingers like a handprint slapped on my heart. Sadness weighs on me and the creeping fear that history may repeat itself keeps me awake.

I pray my family’s suffering at the hands of those who sought to destroy us was not in vain. Never again.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Look For the Signs

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There was a song in the early 1970s by the Five Man Electrical Band called, “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs.”  It’s meaning is meant, I believe, as a sarcastic protest against the “establishment,” culture of the times.  Certain groups of people were labeled, kept out and otherwise rejected by the mainstream, even in church.  But over the years what has resonated for me is the concept of “signs,” both literal and figurative.  I think when we are open to the world around us, there are, indeed, signs everywhere.

A few months ago, I was shown a sign and thank goodness, I was able to read it.  I was offered a tremendous opportunity to return to my professional roots as editor of a local newspaper.  While my background is in broadcasting, nevertheless someone saw fit to offer me the position.  It was at the very same time I was contemplating my future in the small business I owned for the last several years.  My partner and I had come to a crossroads and I had the choice to become the sole owner or to join her in the sale of the business.  I considered doing both jobs at once and decided that while probably doable, I really wanted to pour myself into just one thing.  Although I really enjoy being an entrepreneur, the thing that feeds my soul and my mind is writing.  At this stage of my life, I feel entitled to follow my passion.  To quote another song, “It’s Now or Never.”  And while it sounds corny, I really did feel the universe was sending me a sign with flashing lights and bells.

So here I am, a month into my new position and there are challenges.  I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know people and processes.  I have felt insecure and anxious.  I have been exhausted by the mental and emotional effort required to learn new things and to restart a part of my brain that had been on hiatus.  At times I’ve felt like a rusty engine that needs grease to get it going again.  But the overwhelming feeling has been relief.  Relief that I’ve found a place that feels like a good fit.  Relief that despite the challenges, I’ve been able to refocus pretty quickly on the demands of this type of work.  And perhaps most important, I feel both relief and gratitude that I was able to read the sign!  And I know this is the right thing for me because despite the exhaustion and jitters, I wake up looking forward to the day and at the end of it, I feel satisfied.  I no longer dread Sunday evenings knowing the new week will feel like a slog.  As tough as this new job might be, I feel at peace inside knowing I’m honoring the passion that has lain dormant for far too long.  And I also feel joy when I sit down to write an article or edit a submission.  The looming deadlines and unpredictable schedule are exhilarating.

I truly believe there are signs all around us.  Most of the time we aren’t looking, and they pass us by.  But if we really tune into our inner voices and give ourselves permission to stop and think, we may just find something we didn’t even know we were seeking.  In my case I was seeking joy, fulfillment and peace by returning to something.  What are you looking for and will you be ready to spot the signs pointing you in the right direction?  “Signs, signs, everywhere signs.”

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at http://www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Transitions 2020

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The new year is only a week old and already I’ve had two significant professional transitions.  The first is that after several years as a small business owner, I have sold my business.  The second is that I’ve returned to my journalism career as editor of a local newspaper.  It’s been a whirlwind of change and learning, and it’s been exhausting, but it’s also been exhilarating.

Life as a business owner was not new to me.  Thirty years ago, in the pre-internet era, I owned a franchise business.  It was fun and challenging and I loved being my own boss.  Most of all, I loved interacting with my clientele.  As an extrovert, I draw energy from interacting with others.  I also was a sole owner and, while the risk was solely mine, so was the reward.  I was also very young and had a growing family, so there were personal challenges as well.  Overall, I’d say it was a wonderful experience.

This time around, I had a partner and we built our business from the ground up.  No consultants to guide us, no corporation to hand us marketing materials and promotions.  Although the risk was greater without a corporate safety net, it’s been fun to see our business grow from an idea into something real and valuable.  A big challenge for me was spending most of my time in my home office.  I missed the client interactions and being alone was depressing at times.  The experience did teach me to be more mindful of self-care and to plan outings and lunches with friends and colleagues.  The partnership also taught me some valuable lessons about myself.  As someone who is a pleaser, I often yield too soon to others’ desires and opinions.  My drive to get along and be liked can be stronger than my need to stand up for what I think and what I know to be a good solution.  I look for compromise or, if there doesn’t appear to be a good one, I’m inclined to give in rather than push my agenda.  And while it’s good to choose one’s battles carefully, I too often choose to just walk away.

I’ve also learned that partnerships can be difficult and challenging, but the best ones are those where both parties feel heard and valued.  Differences of opinion can be a good growth opportunity and as long as there is trust and respect, those differences needn’t become make-or-break.  It is in the struggle that people can draw closer together.  And in the end, the reward was building something of value that we could successfully, and profitably, pass on to someone else.

So where am I now?  For most of my life I have been passionate about writing.  Words fascinate me with their power to move minds and hearts and to effect change.  These days, journalism gets a bad rap.  As with anything, there are bad apples that spoil the bunch.  But for most journalists, the responsibility and privilege to enlighten, engage, provoke, educate and entertain weighs heavy.  It may seem cliché but being a voice for those who have none and providing a check on the powerful in society and government is a calling.  I am excited to spend more time telling the stories of real people and events in my community.  I’m also thrilled to spend more time out in the world, observing and reflecting back what I see and hear.

I’ve been lucky to have several careers in my life.  Each one has led me to the other and each is a reflection of a part of myself.  Writing is the thread that has run through it all and the thing that feeds my soul.  It is the best expression of myself and the way I can best share myself with the world.  So, onward to the future.  I look forward to sharing more of this new chapter with all of you.  Happy New Year 2020!


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  A former small business owner, she is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at http://www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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How Journalism is Evolving in a Tech Savvy World

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Just before I began journalism school, nearly 20 years ago, I attended an orientation for new students.  I was seated at a table with the Dean, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, who asked me point blank if I thought newspapers were eventually going to disappear.  “I certainly hope not,” I answered, “I can’t imagine not starting my day with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.”  Indeed, the Internet was in its infancy, cell phones were tiny, laptops were big and bulky and analog video was still the reigning format for TV news.

But the writing was on the wall (no pun intended) and our university had just created a cutting edge, high tech program for incoming students called “Online Journalism.”  The younger undergrads and my young grad school classmates flocked to the program, eager to learn this new technology.  But me, I wanted no part of it.  I had waited a long time to pursue my passion for journalism and I was determined to rely on traditional, time honored, reporting methods.  In fact, I continued to take notes and do my writing in long hand in a spiral notebook.

Those that don’t evolve are soon left behind and after much teasing by my 20-something classmates, I taught myself to compose my assignments on my computer.  When the school built a multi-million dollar state of the art digital newsroom, I registered for classes to learn how to navigate the world of digital news reporting.  I actually enjoyed the process and was pretty good at editing.

Imagine my surprise when my first job after grad school, at a local public radio station, required me to learn how to record on and edit reel-to-reel tape!  The 50-year-old station still hadn’t upgraded to the digital technology I’d worked so hard to learn.  But in time, they also made the switch.

These days, my tools of the trade are all contained in my IPhone.  I can take notes, record, edit and upload stories to the cloud, all from a device that fits in my pocket and weighs a few ounces.  Both audio and video quality is sharp and I can produce stories anywhere at any time.  Rather than wait in a newsroom for an assignment or a call from a source, I can be on the job all the time, anywhere.  The news cycle is now 24 hours and the churn is never ending.

So how has this new digital world affected the profession of journalism itself?  Here the waters are much murkier.  Questions about what is news and who is a journalist are much more complicated now that pretty much anyone with a phone or a laptop can record and report on events.  And the quality and quantity of product also raises questions about what is news and what is entertainment.  There are more podcasts, blogs, vlogs and online programming than can be counted, and the numbers grow exponentially.  The simple question about the survival of newspapers seems quaint in today’s world where even venerable publications have laid off print staff in favor of bloggers, podcasters and online producers.  Is this bad?  I’m not sure.  The world is both expanding and shrinking as new technology connects us all in ways we never dreamed of when I started school.

What’s up ahead?  It’s unclear where this digital revolution is taking us.  My hope is that whether through formal education or trial and error, there will always be those people who are our eyes and ears throughout the world; people with integrity who can report honestly and fairly, shine a light on events and be a watchdog, a voice for those who have no voice.  For whatever form it takes, that is the mission of good journalism and there is no substitute.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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