Secret no more: Executed journalist Steven Sotloff's Jewish faith makes headlines

Patience, boss. The mainstream press got to the story on day two.

GetReligion's editor, Terry Mattingly, questioned Wednesday why major media outlets seemed to be ignoring the Jewish faith of Steven Sotloff, the latest journalist executed by Islamic State militants.

While tmatt said he could understand withholding that incendiary detail while radical Islamists held Sotloff, he asked:

However, why — now — is the faith element of this tragedy not relevant to editors at CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.? Why isn't this part of the basic factual material at the foundation of this tragic story?

But it didn't take long for that basic factual material to start making its way into mainstream news accounts. Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein was among those who jumped on the story:

Boorstein reported:

The secrets that couldn’t be known about beheaded journalist Steven Sotloff during his captivity were revealed in detail Wednesday: The 31-year-old was Jewish, had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship and apparently maintained his Jewish ritual life while being held by ISIS.
The Forward, a major U.S. news organization covering Jewish issues, said it was among the media and Jewish organizations that honored the request by Sotloff’s family not to reveal his Jewish background and connections. According to The Forward, Sotloff was the grandson of Holocaust survivors, his mother was a synagogue preschool teacher in South Miami and he had written for Israeli publications.
News of his death uncorked the emotion around the topic of his faith.
“We can now say that Steven Joel Sotloff was Jewish,” read the first line of The Forward’s editorial Wednesday.
“Apologies in advance for this horrid thought, but I’m surprised that ISIS didn’t behead the guy with the Jewish name first,” Julia Ioffe, an editor at The New Republic, tweeted to her 38,000 followers.

The New York Times and CNN — the other two news organizations mentioned specifically by tmatt — covered that angle, too, on the second day:

And the religion angle made the front page of Sotloff's home-state Miami Herald:

The Herald story ends with this chilling quote from the Sotloff family’s rabbi, Terry Bookman:

In any event, Sotloff’s religion probably had nothing to do with his fate. “They’re killing Christians,” Bookman said. “They’re killing Zoroastrians. They’re killing Shia. Putting a Jew into the hopper, I don't know if it matters.”

It's hard to argue with the rabbi's point.

Still, give the media credit for recognizing the importance of faith in answering the question tmatt highlighted: "Who was Sotloff?"

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