Afavorite journalistic perk of mine was getting on think-tank mailing lists for panel discussions and in-depth interviews involving leading thinkers on subjects in which I am interested.
For an hour or more you get to hear acknowledged top experts who are tough, if not near impossible, to get to respond to your calls, emails, texts or whatever. And when they do, all you are likely to get is a brief exchange -- unless you have a special relationship with them or you work for an elite news outlet.
The background information or on-the-record quotes gleaned from such encounters can be invaluable. Plus it often comes with a free sandwich and beverage, or a full meal if you score the right mailing lists.
Thanks to the Web, you no longer have to leave you office, or home, to partake of these events, which are now available to anyone with an Internet connection. That's another big plus, even if I now have to make my own sandwich.
One recent interview, followed by an audience Q&A, I watched online featured Rabbi (and British) Lord Jonathan Sacks, for 22 years the United Kingdom's chief Modern Orthodox rabbi. He left that position in 2013 and now teaches at universities in New York and the UK, when not traveling the world as an esteemed religious leader and philosopher.
The exchange took place before a Council on Foreign Relations audience in New York. Click here to watch the entire 72-minute event.
The subject was 21st Century religious violence -- to my mind the most consequential religion and international story of the moment.