December 5, 2013
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 04/12/2013
The extreme Left is often described as “peace activists,” but it is invariably “Jewish extremists” when considering the Right.
In an op-ed rant published in Haaretz on November 24 entitled “This extreme left-wing state,” Gideon Levy angrily asserted that Israel’s “true left has disappeared” and that “Israeli society is becoming more and more right-wing and nationalistic.”
One of his “proofs” was his claim that Israel’s media is not leftist.
Levy considers it rightist. It collaborates with the occupation, adopting “the language of the occupation and all the false versions of its instigators. It represses, deceives, hides, evades and denies,” he writes. Moreover, its quality is all wrong for it “provides mostly nonsense and entertainment, abuses its position, dumbs things down and blinds.”
He then makes an astonishingly Orwellian statement: “this is the way of the Right: To falsely tag people, to extort, threaten, intimidate and afterward to reap the harvest.”
Many dozens of our articles in this paper, in addition to other monitoring groups, put the lie to Levy’s skewed vision. His newspaper is engaged in a crusade against the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria; a strong defense policy; and a proud statement of Jewish religion and culture. This bias dominates both its views as well as the news. The bias starts at home, Mr. Levy.
A former Haaretz editor, David Landau, admitted the paper would restrain itself from over-investigating and over-reporting any of Ariel Sharon’s peccadilloes so as not to interfere with his disengagement project from Gaza. Its reporters have been proven irresponsible with their coverage and fined by the courts. Haaretz’s English-language edition has been accused of numerous errors of translation and fact stemming not from carelessness but from overzealousness to promote a political agenda. These include biased terminology, mistranslations, incomplete facts and omission of information.
For example, on October 14, as noted by the Presspectiva website, Haaretz ran an article titled: “West Bank village inhabited for 3,000 years faces eviction,” referring to the village of Sanuta whose inhabitants are illegally perched on an archaeological site. The Palestinian inhabitants have not been there 3,000 years. They haven’t even been there for 50 years.
Last year it was Gideon Levy himself who had to retract his false accusations, based on a misrepresentation of statistics, that Israel is an apartheid state.
It was Haaretz reporter Amy Klein who suggested falsely that singer Rihanna, performing in Israel, replaced the lyrics “All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs” with “All I see is Palestine.”
Haaretz is the main offender in this regard, but Yediot Aharonot, its Ynet news site, the Walla website, other mainstream news outlets as well as the three television channels, 1, 2 and 10, as well as Kol Yisrael and Galatz radio have all committed similar “errors” in the past, invariably biased toward a leftist agenda. If there is a right-wing media, it is sectorial.
A critic of what he perceives as left-wing bias in the American media, Warner T. Huston suggests that the media sees itself as becoming “a profession increasingly assuming a national and ideological agenda.” Some of his American examples echo elements we recognize in Israel, which confirm the label of “leftist.”
These include employing phrases such as “violent rhetoric” or “climate of violence” as a scare tactic.
The extreme Left is often described as “peace activists,” but it is invariably “Jewish extremists” when considering the Right.
Relatively minor incidents are magnified disproportionately when they involve the Right.
Reporting on certain social protests that figure high on the left-wing agenda, even when violent, become “suffused with a touch of sweetness” by the media.
Thanks to media over-exposure it is only left-wing journalists who become our oracles, and we think of Ari Shavit, who appears with no counter-balance as the commentator on IBA’s Friday night digest of the weekly program, Yoman Hashavua. His “wisdom” is then magnified by other wise men such as Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. Consider the overwhelming majority of moderators of the discussion programs on television and radio: Yael Dan, Amnon Avramovitz, Moshe Negbi, Natan Zehavi, Rino Tzror, Tal Lipkin-Shahak, Aryeh Golan, Keren Neubach, Razi Barkai, Micha Friedman and more, all of whom express left-ofcenter to far-left viewpoints. Left-wing think tanks, like the Israel Democracy Institute, or advocacy groups like B’Tselem, are routinely referred to in a neutral manner whereas a group like Regavim or the Zionist Institute of National Strategies are always termed right-wing.
The charge of bias is not unique to Israel. In England last August, a report produced by the Centre for Policy Studies found that the BBC is biased toward the Left; it is twice as likely to cover left-wing policy proposals. Left-wing think tank reports are termed “independent” while right-wing research is identified ideologically. Left-of-center bias is expressed in “both the amount of coverage it gives to different opinions and the way in which these voices are represented.”
There is a second level of media bias bothering Uri Misgav, who published his criticism of the cultural “criminalism” he sees in Israel’s commercial television programming on November 22 in Levy’s own newspaper, Haaretz: “Channel 2 is celebrating… [t]wenty years of public and cultural degradation and erosion… [and] a clone channel  has flowered in its shadow. The dam has burst and both channels have begun sullying their professional evening news programs…. The public is exposed to every ill wind. Twenty years of corruption, brutalization and pandering to the lowest standards…”
What we face is not only political- ideological bias. Politically the agenda over-emphasizes left-of-center issues, analysis and punditry.
At the same time in the cultural sphere, we are being dumbed down. The media is targeting our minds and numbing them, desensitizing them.
Last week, singer Arik Einstein died. Without detracting from his personality and cultural contributions to Israeli society, one cannot escape the fact that his death was used by the media to define what they believe is “the ultimate Israeli,” spinning it to the Left. These lines from his song “My Little Journalist” are quite a fitting epitaph to Levy’s tirades:
“They write in the papers / What they want / Twisting, dirtying / Without mercy / Into the beds they go / They peek through holes / And there’s nothing to be done / No mercy here…. They kill using words / They fooling with a soul / ‘Where to?’ I ask / The love has gone.”
Perhaps what really bothers Levy is that the Israeli public is no longer willing to accept a leftwing- biased media. Perhaps too, nowadays he can no longer get away with his perversions without immediate exposure.
Whatever the case, we prefer Gideon Levy complaining than Gideon Levy complacent.
November 28, 2013
Media Comment: Leader, caretaker or failure?
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 27/11/2013
There are leaders and caretakers. A leader identifies needs and moves ahead to provide, while the caretaker takes good care of his responsibilities.
Real leaders are few and far between.
There are leaders and caretakers. A leader identifies needs in advance and moves ahead to provide them, irrespective of the volume of the background noise of pundits, self-designated experts and know-it-alls. The caretaker seeks to make sure that he takes good care of his responsibilities. They kowtow to their superiors, pay attention to their underlings and bend with any breeze that blows in their direction. Their main goal is to be perceived as doing their job well. The failure may be a leader who did not know how to implement grand ideas but all too often can also be the miserable caretaker, who has little idea about management, who is happy to make do with a hefty salary and a prestigious job but fails even the challenge of being a successful caretaker.
Associate Professor Dr. Ilan Avisar was the chair of the Department of Film and Television at the Faculty of the Arts at Tel Aviv University from 2002-2005. For eight years (1996- 2004) he was a member of the Israeli Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting. For the past nine years he has also been a member of the Israel Film Council. His credentials are impeccable and, in contrast to many others on the humanities faculty of Tel Aviv University, he identifies publicly as a Zionist. It is not surprising that Moshe Kahlon, as then minister responsible for the Second Authority of TV and Radio (SATR ), appointed him as chair of the SATR almost four years ago. Avisar’s term will end this January, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan is already in the process of appointing a new council, and so it is only appropriate to try to provide an assessment of Avisar’s performance during these past four years.
The Walla website reported a week ago that Culture Minister Limor Livnat expressed scathing criticism of the SATR : “The second authority mandated to be the gatekeeper for our children and Israel’s culture is derelict in its duty. I sometimes pinch myself, saying that this cannot be. It is impossible to open the TV ; everything has turned into ‘reality.’” Livnat, who 15 years ago was Israel’s communications minister responsible among others for the SATR and whose efforts led to the opening of Channel 10 TV , is not a voice in the wilderness. At the end of 2012, in the aftermath of the Knesset’s election gifts of hundreds of millions of shekels to channels 10 and 2, Avisar appointed the Shaham Committee, named after its chairman Ya’akov Shaham, head of the SATR TV oversight committee.
The official reason for this committee’s appointment was “a thorough review of the media, especially in view of the latest legislation of the Knesset.”
Presumably this committee, whose recommendations were, as announced by the SATR , to be binding and given within 120 days, was supposed to provide recommendations that would lead to change in the low level of programming while, at the same time, safeguarding the economic needs of the TV concessionaires.
The latest twist is that the SATR has extended the mandate of the committee until the end of January, by which time the mandate of the present SATR board will have expired! Israel’s film producers have cried foul against the Shaham Committee, claiming that it would release channels 2 and 10 from the need to outsource their products. At the same time, the channels are fearful that the committee will restrict their ability to provide covert advertising. We would add that the Shaham Committee was not needed. Many members of the SATR council do not identify with it either and would prefer it to cease existing.
Its function was to allow Avisar to claim that he is acting, when in reality he was procrastinating.
The SATR ’s rules prohibit covert advertising. A committee chaired by Prof. Asa Kasher presented its recommendations on this issue already in 2006, but they were ignored.
SATR rules also do not allow the concessionaires to use news air time to present trailers of their upcoming programming. At IMW we have repeatedly noted this theft of air time, but it has taken Avisar and the SATR three years before they even invited the concessionaires for a “chat” about their illegal practices.
In fact, until now nothing has been done. In Hebrew slang, there is an expression for this kind of management. It is called “as if” – as if something were actually being done.
The TV show Ossim Shinui (Creating a Change) is another example of mismanagement.
Four months ago, we informed Avisar that the producers of this program are illegally offering NGOs to appear on the program, provided that they pay a sum of NIS 50,000. Avisar did nothing until this past week when the DeMarker website had a professional testify that he had to pay for appearing on the program.
The show has now been canceled. No, Avisar did not call the police in for an investigation.
Fear of the press seems to be the driving force in Avisar’s SATR administration, not the real question of whether the law has to be upheld.
Up until this day, the SATR has not kept its commitment to enforce gender equality at the Kol Barama radio station. Women are not allowed to present programs, and their part in the broadcasts is minor at best. From day one, Avisar tried to defend the station instead of carrying out his mandate, which is to enforce the law.
The foul language of some of the hosts, especially on FM 103, is roundly criticized by all. A year ago, Avisar promised that he would work to issue codes of conduct that would define this unethical conduct and eliminate it. As usual, nothing has yet been done, and people like Natan Zehavi continue to defile our airwaves.
In retrospect, we can certainly say that the present SATR council and its chair, Avisar, did not play a leadership role. The frequency of reality shows increased, the use of news programming to advertise shows reached unprecedented heights, and covert advertising became the norm. Some council members, such as Dr. Dalia Zelikovitch, tried from within to create change, but Avisar would not allow it. Others, such as Dr. Aliza Lavie, escaped to become Knesset members. The bottom line is that not a single new radio station has been added to Israel’s spectrum (Galei Yisrael was approved in principle before Avisar’s chairmanship).
Digital radio broadcasting is still far away in the future, awaiting real leadership. The poor quality of the content on channels 2 and 10 is acknowledged by all. Here too, if anything, the quality has worsened and the number of broadcasters has not changed. Avisar’s council can, in the best of cases, be considered a caretaker, as it has for four years supplied us with more of the same. The council failed miserably in providing the Israeli public what it deserves – pluralistic quality broadcasting on TV and over the radio. One can only hope that Erdan will have the wisdom and foresight to appoint a real leader.
November 21, 2013
By YISRAEL MEDAD, ELI POLLAK, 11/20/2013
It’s never too late to apologize and to make amends. That is true even when a media outlet makes a mistake. Or rather, it should be.
This past week, The Harrisburg Patriot News, 150 years after the fact, published an apology for an article that appeared in its pages on November 24, 1863. It apologized for what it acknowledges now was “a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.”
The newspaper was referring to its reaction five days after president Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The apology read in part: “Our predecessors…called President Lincoln’s words ‘silly remarks,’ deserving ‘a veil of oblivion,’ apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.”
Yes, media people do make errors. There are factual errors, poor judgment and personal prejudice. There are errors of omission and commission. If journalists want us to relate to them as professionals, they should act like professionals.
Carl S. Stepp became a journalist in 1963 and went on to be a national and then senior editor for various newspapers and news organizations in more than 30 US states. He decided to share some insights he gleaned from 50 years in the media business.
A sample is repeated here for the benefit of our readers, and might just be also transmitted to your favorite unreliable and unethical journalists.
Consider the following:
1. Reliable information is a primal human need, and providing it is a noble service.
2. Do not shortchange organizing and revising.
3. Nothing is more important than accuracy.
4. There is always something you don’t know.
And our favorite: 5. Journalists who dish it out should do a better job of taking it.
We can only presume that even Israeli journalists are aware of these truths. But if so, this implies that infractions and violations of media ethics are more serious than it might appear.
Media consumers are being cheated and even betrayed. The product they are being provided with is faulty and unreliable.
Bob Dylan, in his “I’m troubled and I don’t know why” song, gave voice to the confusion caused by unethical media: “What did the television squall? / Well, it roared an’ it boomed / An’ it bounced around the room, / An’ it never said nothin’ at all.”
Here are some examples of our media’s problematic behavior: On TV Channel 2’s program on consumer affairs on October 23, Liad Modrik finished off a segment devoted to an Israeli-made safety table for schools intended to provide protection during earthquakes by noting, “but they’re so expensive.”
One of us complained that without factoring in elements such as insurance payments, physical and psychological treatment expenses, loss of work days, etc., her personal opinion was uncalled for, prejudiced and not permitted on air. The ombudsman, David Regev, as is his habit, passed the buck and transmitted the complaint to Modrik and her superiors without taking a position himself.
On November 5, Channel 10’s Rafi Reshef aired a news item on the entrapment of Internet pedophiles. The language, while not adult, was quite descriptive. The use of explicit photographs, although fuzzed out, was enough, in our judgment, to cause a child to become inquisitive and get interested. The show was aired just before 5:30 p.m., much earlier than permitted by law. In this instance, even Ombudsman Regev found the complaint justified and admitted to an “uneasy feeling” as he watched the photographs being played over and over.
On the bright side, Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson informed the public that the basketball which appeared in a photograph snapped in the house near Sinjil that was torched last week, allegedly a “price-tag” action, was a prop used for effect, to gain sympathy. He testified that an Arab TV crew took the ball from outside and placed it strategically in the room offering the best photographic angle.
Unfortunately, his revelation was solely to his Facebook friends.
Asked about the non-publication in his paper, Levinson replied, “you are obsessively involved in esoteric media issues which lack all substance, unlike me.”
His “real” media consumers were thus kept in the dark.
This past week has seen an ever-increasing level of confrontation with the United States (and The New York Times editorial board along with Thomas Friedman) revolving around the weighty issue of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. But as if following the script of an inane, lowbrow reality show, the Israeli media are in a frenzy over a “very famous singer,” and his social media-reported dalliances with underage teenage girls.
This dumbing down of the news is dangerous.
The justice department decided this week not to prosecute Emmanuel Rosen and Guy Sharon, media stars pilloried in the press for suspicion of sexual misconduct. The initial brouhaha over these allegations was all but a military field court, all of course in the name of the media’s responsibility to the public. In fact, the media was a partner to the near lynching of these men.
On November 14, Alastair Campbell presented a public lecture on “How journalism can rebuild its reputation” and the nexus of journalism and democracy at Cambridge University. He expressed his frustration over the fact that “great [investigative] journalism requires time… today’s newspapers lack patience and investment.” He further asserted that the way “the press were defending their freedoms from the modest changes proposed by [the] Leveson [Report]… after revelations which disgusted the public… [was] absurd self-serving bilge that would not have survived a moment’s analysis had any other industry put something like it forward.”
He noted, as we have done, that while the press campaigns for regulation of all sorts of institutions, “only newspapers, it seems, despite trust ratings lower than [all other institutions]… consider [themselves] exempt, and allowed to design their own regulation, despite so much evidence of their failure and untrustworthiness to do so.”
What can be particularly infuriating in trying to apply rules and regulations to the media is the escape method the media applies to itself.
As Campbell pointed out above, the media excels at applying a double double standard.
For example, the political and economic connections of media owners, senior editors and columnists are not for public consumption, nor are the deviant shenanigans in their personal lives. At the same time there has been a push for political correctness as a replacement for traditional media values.
The new buzzwords are inclusiveness of race, gender, ethnicity and cultural “outsiders.”
Groups very much on the “inside” find themselves marginalized by this new corrective prejudice. In Israel, haredim, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, as well as the national- religious camp, all of whom are very much central to coalition politics, are far from being “accepted,” while feminist, homosexual/lesbian, pro-Palestinian and anti-rabbinic groups are over-exposed. Fringe minorities supersede Israel’s mainstream, demoting and coloring the public discourse. Media ethics are not to be ignored and the media should be held responsible for their less-than-adequate standards.
November 6, 2013
by YISRAEL MEDAD, ELI POLLAK, 06/11/2013
The media demands that there be no interference in its professional work.
Self-protection and survival are natural instincts. Faced with danger, the red panda usually flees and a rhinoceros will charge. Bureaucracies obfuscate.
A 1944 US Office of Strategic Services manual on sabotage suggested the following gems on how to interfere with organizational operations: never permit shortcuts, refer all matters to committees and bring up irrelevant issues.
All of these strategies and more are staples of the media business.
One outstanding strategy used to deflect criticism of the media coming from NGOs such as Israel’s Media Watch who monitor it daily, keep audio and visual records and produce research reports, is that this activity is done by “outsiders.”
This allows the media to portray media critics as ignorant or worse, antagonists whose sole purpose is to oppose democracy and undermine the democratic task and role the media plays in our society.
The media demands that there be no interference in its professional work. They are the Fourth Estate, separate and above the political fray and no one has the right to check and balance their activities.
Branding opponents is one of the more benign methods. The media does not hesitate to use the democratic process for its own goals.
It demands protection from politicians in the form of specialized laws such as protecting journalists from having to reveal their sources.
At the same time, though, the media seeks to control those who could potentially cause it damage.
One well-known ploy is the threat to withhold air/screen time. A politician or any other public figure will early on in their career realize that exerting pressure on the media will lead to the stifling of their connection with the electorate.
The media uses its power to distort and even mute the figure’s public agenda. The public will not be allowed to become intimate with her or his positions and activities.
If this does not work, the next step is to turn the media critic into an object of ridicule. The media will depict itself as a heroic crusader and those with criticism as villains.
Dr Jacinta Maweu from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, is a lecturer in media studies.
In an August 2013 article, he dealt with the effect of increasing commercialism on what he defines as media benchmarks: professionalism, truth, accuracy, reliability, impartiality, respect for humanity and the promotion of public interest.
He pointed out that “the success of any democracy depends upon the combined efforts of professional journalists, concerned citizens and responsible media institutions that can balance between public and commercial interest. And without such, citizens only fool themselves when they claim they are informed and self-governing.”
Sadly, too often, academia in Israel, instead of being the leaders they should be in pointing out the emperor has no clothes, do the exact opposite. More often than not, Israeli academics prefer to remain naked, becoming over-friendly with the media.
This week, the University of Haifa’s Department of Communication, together with Sonara and the Nazereth Academic Institute, are holding a conference entitled “Religion, Peace and Media Coverage.”
Sonara is an Arab news website. Reviewing it, we note that it broadcasts Valley of the Wolves, an anti-Israel, and indeed, an anti-Semitic Turkish television production.
Perhaps the need for funding caused the organizers at Haifa U. to overlook this inconvenient element.
The schedule provides insight into how the media will violate the fundamental professional demands of balance and pluralism.
Tomorrow, Friday, Dr. Hannah Kehat of Kolech will be the sole presenter at the session devoted to “The New Field of Power in the Struggle of Religious Feminists.”
We know of exciting developments in feminism within the national religious camp which deviate from the radical concepts of Dr. Kehath. Why are they not part of this conference? Are the organizers seeking to marginalize elements in Israel’s society who do not toe the reformist liberal media line? Later that morning, the participants in a discussion of “Peace in the Media” are Prof. Akiba Cohen, Ilil Shahar of Galatz, Hussein Sweti, a Sonara journalist, Peace Now’s Yariv Oppenheimer and Dr. Ghazi Abu-Raya, spokesperson for Sakhnin and the director of the far-left Givat Haviva Center branch there.
Cohen is arguably the force behind the latest ethics changes in the IBA which allow journalists to use the public airwaves to promote their own agendas.
Shahar was exposed by IMW as accepting a paid invitation from the Geneva Initiative groups to fly to Europe and cover their activities. The lack of balance in the panel is all too evident.
The other panels are not much better. Today, Thursday, the main panel will have Dr.
Michele Rosenfeld of Haifa U., Yair Sheleg of Makor Rishon and the Israel Democracy Institute, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Chacour, the Reform Movement’s Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Sharia Judge Iyad Zahalka and Sheikh Nemer Nemer.
Chacour, a Melkite from Biram, is engaged in “reconciliation work.” In his book We Belong to the Land he writes: “We as Palestinians had not been responsible for the suffering of the Jews in Europe, yet we were the ones who were chased out of our land and made to suffer so the world could soothe its conscience and pretend to repair the evil done against the Jews.”
Kippa-wearing Sheleg is ideologically left-of-center in his political outlook and close to Kehat in his religious views. Kariv defines himself as a progressive.
Was the editor of Besheva, Emmanuel Shiloh, also a kippa-wearing Jew, asked to participate? The answer is no, for we asked him.
There are several haredi newspapers, radio stations and news websites. Do they have nothing to contribute to the topic? There are National Religious rabbis who appear regularly in the mainstream media interview shows. Not one of them could be persuaded to attend? Was Dr. Yoel Cohen of Ariel University, an expert and author of books and articles on the subject, invited? In answer to our questioning, he confirmed that he was not.
This “academic” conference is a classic example of the friends of the media restricting the “public space” of possible critics while rewarding those who do attend with recognition and perhaps a report in the media on their participation.
It highlights the media’s success in protecting itself from criticism and opposing points of view. It also reveals the unethical actions certain elements in society are willing to engage in to assure that their political and cultural bias is entrenched.
The German-Jewish satirist Karl Kraus famously quipped, “No ideas and the ability to express them – that’s a journalist.”
Let us not be misunderstood: a free media is a sine qua non for a free, democratic and informed society. But if the media and its academic supporters insist on managing the news, distancing outsiders while enlisting insiders as allies, they only invite increased mistrust from the public.
There are many reasons why the media must be monitored and studied. One good explanation is this excerpt from Franz Kafka’s short story, “At Night”: “Why are you watching? Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there.”
October 31, 2013
By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 30/10/2013
It is much easier to let things be than to struggle to change them. Bureaucratic complacency has to be replaced.
The Foreign Press Association in Israel represents, according to its website, “some 480 journalists who… report from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Our membership includes international journalists based in the region, as well as dozens of Israelis and Palestinians.”
The FPA makes an effort to introduce Israel to its members, especially for those who are new to this country.
On its web page, “Blogs & Links,” this professional association lists just over 30 external sites as references for its members, including four mainstream media sites (Ynetnews, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz English and Ma’an News) of which only one can be described as centrist, while two are to the Left and the one represents the Arab population which sees itself as “Palestinian.”
But there are additional resources there, including Gush Shalom (English and Arabic), Machsom Watch, Givat Haviva Jewish Arab Center for Peace, Corresponsalisraelpalestina and other extreme left wing political activist groups whose primary agenda is “anti-occupation.”
Amnesty International is included, along with but one Israeli academic institution: Ben-Gurion University.
The list does include centrist groups such as MEMRI and NGO Monitor, but the overall tone is clearly identifiable.
The FPA would presumably claim that these sites provide a partial component of life in Israel and so are important for a good journalist who wants to present the whole picture. This would be a credible position if the FPA indeed provided a balanced list.
But this is not the case. Their list does not provide adequate insight into the vast majority of Israeli public opinion. It ignores events and incidents that are usually only reported by sectorial outlets. As we know, the majority of foreign correspondents arrive with little knowledge of the complex history of Jews, their connection to the Land of Israel, the background of the Israel-Arab conflict and even less of the Hebrew language.
In too many cases, they arrive with prejudices about who is right and who is wrong, who is the victim and who is a criminal. The makeup of the websites recommended by the FPA only serves to deepen the antipathy towards us.
There is another section at the website, called “Useful Contacts.” It includes the names and contact details of official spokespersons from government ministries, office holders, the IDF and Palestinian Authority offices.
This section is somewhat more representative.
Included are IBA NEWS (English), IDF Radio, Channel 2 and Channel 10 TV as well as Israel Hayom. Israel National News (Arutz 7), though, is missing, as is the Tatzpit Photo Agency.
The FPA also provides a list of “civil rights” NGOs.
These include some of the most extreme and/or unreliable NGO’s in Israel such as Adalah, LAW, Al-Mezan Center, B’Tselem, Musaawa, Physicians for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
In the “General” category, one can find only four groups that we would consider as not identified with the Left: JCPA, Israel Resource News Agency, MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch.
Another half-dozen are proactively involved in furthering a left-wing agenda, including the Israel Peace Initiative, Ir Amim and MIFTAH.
Someone at the FPA is either incompetent or perhaps worse, is using the FPA as a mouthpiece for Israel’s post-Zionist ideologues.
The narrow-mindedness of the FPA, providing only a limited picture of Israel, is not just theoretical. Too frequently, foreign journalists are not able to competently understand, analyze and report on Israel’s political, social and cultural landscape. These limitations are then magnified abroad.
Last week, The New York Times had to issue a correction for a profile piece on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The correction revolved, though, around the personality of his wife, Sara. The original article had noted that she had a “purported temper [which] has been widely faulted.” In addition it suggested that her child-rearing methods were faulty.
In a later corrected version the tone changed, to “Ms. Netanyahu is a respected child psychologist.”
Israel Hayom reported that the author of the article, Jodi Rudoren, had sent a letter of apology to Sara Netanyahu claiming that it was an “embarrassing failure of the editing process.”
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid pursued the matter and was told the apology was initiated the Times realizing that the article contained an error and that “there was no pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office.”
The Times correspondent declined to disclose to Ravid the contents of his letter of apology.
The article, however, also claimed that Prime Minister Netanyahu is “isolated” in his Iranian sanctions policy. This was published at a time when public opinion polls indicate he is well-supported by Israel’s citizens.
Where is the Times getting its information from? Could this be indicative that some foreign correspondents are too well-bedded down with interested parties on the Israeli fringe? Do they listen only to politicians from the opposition? On October 27, Glenn Greenway, of Edward Snowden fame (or infamy), wrote to the Times’ former editor and current writer Bill Keller and expressed this view: “All journalism is a form of activism. Every journalistic choice necessarily embraces highly subjective assumptions – cultural, political or nationalistic… and serves the interests of one faction or another.”
Such a journalist, we suspect, would surrender accuracy in favor of his personal outlook. And that is done here in Israel by too many of the foreign media.
Recently, we learned of an incident in which a film crew from NBC accompanied a group of Jews inside the Temple Mount compound to report on the restrictions on prayer by Jews there. Threatened by the Wakf authorities, the police, pressured by the Muslim religious trust representatives, removed the media team from the Temple Mount.
In the past, Israel has been negatively profiled when it was perceived as having interfered with the freedom of the press. In the past the FPA itself was active in denouncing Israeli limitations.
Not having seen any report in the foreign media concerning the matter, not even in a search of NBC news itself, we directed a query to the FPA.
The response we received was: “We have asked the GPO (as we always do) to speak to the relevant authorities after a similar incident recently. Our aim is to enable foreign journalists to cover the news without impediment.”
This is a remarkably reserved and low-key reaction.
The denial of freedom of the press on the Temple Mount is not on the agenda of the foreign press or the FPA. The Wakf, an extreme, religiously obscurantist institution, was “given a pass” or, to be blunt, a double standard is being practiced against Israel in favor of its Arab enemies.
Is the bias of the FPA an immutable law of nature? We believe not. Too many government officials engaged in contacts with the international media are not doing their job.
It is much easier to let things be than to struggle to change them. Bureaucratic complacency has to be replaced. A concerted effort by the government, Zionist NGOs and the public at large can change the situation.
October 23, 2013
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 23/10/2013
The ongoing battle between the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s director-general Yoni Ben-Menachem and its chairman Amir Gilat is very public.
The ongoing battle between the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s director-general Yoni Ben-Menachem and its chairman Amir Gilat is very public.
This isn’t something new – indeed, it’s a tradition at the IBA, adhered to by almost all of their predecessors. Israel’s public broadcasting law did not clearly delineate the responsibilities of the chairman, executive board of directors and 32-member plenum of the IBA council relative to those of the professional management, headed by the director-general. Since everyone wants control, the resulting tension between the two main personalities tasked with running and overseeing the IBA is natural.
However, it would seem Gilat and Ben-Menachem have succeeded in outdoing their predecessors in their mutual animosity. In Knesset committee sessions, the two make sure to sit far apart. The popular refrain “anything you can do, I can do better,” has been replaced for them with “anything you can do, I can destroy.”
The IBA is in trouble. Gilat and Ben- Menachem, during better times, agreed on the steps needed to obtain over a half-billion shekels from the government, in an attempt to resuscitate the organization. The so-called reform agreements, signed by the employees, promised a staff cutback of 700, as well as management changes. However, as already described in previous articles, the agreement does not contain the guarantees needed to assure that the IBA will be well managed and truly a public servant.
The minister responsible for the IBA, Gilad Erdan, aware of the serious problems at the IBA, has appointed a committee to look into the “reform package” and in the meanwhile has stopped its funding.
This, instead of convincing Ben-Menachem and Gilat that in bad times, one should overcome differences and attempt to salvage what can be salvaged, has merely exacerbated their already strong differences of opinion.
So much so that Ben-Menachem has recently applied to the State Comptroller for the defense of his job. The comptroller turned him down.
THE LATEST chapter of this story is the IBA’s new ethical guidelines. As we reported in the past, the IBA ethics committee, chaired by former judge Dr. Bilha Cahane, basing itself on extreme left-wing icons such as Professor Akiva Cohen from the Communications Department of Tel Aviv University, decided that the IBA must be brought up to date.
The old ethical guidelines, known as the Nakdi document, which stated that the IBA does not have “a voice of its own,” needed to be thoroughly revised, the committee concluded.
The poor journalists, such as Keren Neubach and Oded Shachar, needed to finally be allowed to use their microphones to further their own agendas.
The decision to revamp the code was taken despite strong opposition.
In fact, previous attempts to stop this outrageous appropriation of public funds to serve the agenda of a cabal of elite journalists had been successful.
This was back when Gilat and Ben- Menachem were still “friends” and knew how to agree on substantial issues. But under the present circumstances, the IBA plenum last week decided to ratify the modernization introduced by Dr. Cahana and her committee. As reported on the Walla website, the decision was ratified with a vote of eight for and two against – that is, less than a third of the members of the IBA plenum actually voted, and only 25 percent of those were in favor. Cahana was not even present at the meeting.
The implications are clear. Consider Neubach’s October 9 interview of Amnon Levy, in which she also touched on the funeral of Rabbi Yosef.
“I can assume, accurately, I would claim, that only that part of Israel’s society which we will call one-to-seven [one being the poorest on her scale] attended the funeral. No one else. You won’t find there numbers eight, nine or 10 – unless they were Shas operatives who managed to care for themselves,” she said.
Amazing. Neubach just “knew” who attended, what their financial status was, and that the better off had only connections to thank for it.
Neubach’s patronizing attitude is considered “ethical” these days, and is to be encouraged. For this is what the new guidelines tell us: “The hosts of soft news shows are understood to be fair agents… they will take the position of devil’s advocate and will do so in a cultured and decent way.”
These guidelines replace the Nakdi doctrine of objectivity with what are termed “the rhetoric of objectivity.”
The guidelines note that “the journalists of the IBA are aware of their heavy responsibility as they are the agents who create reality for the public, and they are aware of their job as journalists in general… the committee was impressed by the IBA’s journalists’ understanding of their job as the watchdog of democracy, therefore it is obligatory to give them the necessary tools to be critical and express their opinions under certain conditions.”
PROFESSOR ASA Kasher, an expert on ethics from Tel Aviv University, had this to say on the Cahana recommendations in a letter to the IBA plenum: “The assumption that we have to redefine our ethics according to existing notions about the role of the press ignores the necessary differences between public and private media.
“ …I have never accepted the cliché that the media is the watchdog of democracy. We have no reason to assume that the media is managed by people who truly know what democracy is and what should happen within a democracy, and how to safeguard it. Too many modern-day journalists are known for their superficiality and lack of understanding of the topics they have to report on.”
We would add that it is doubly disconcerting to see a governing body make changes to media ethics when the managers themselves obviously do not understand their basic responsibilities towards the public which funds the IBA.
Passing a controversial decision with less than a third of the members of the plenum present is not exactly democratic. Deliberating on it without its having been on the agenda of the meeting in advance is a violation of the basic principles of fair government.
Not allowing those who think differently to be heard is just another way of saying dictatorship.
For the past 20 years we have argued that Israel needs a public broadcasting authority. If managed correctly, such a body provides an exceptionally important service to the public, not only in the realm of news, but also in culture, sport, education and whatnot.
But when the IBA spends money without any accounting; when its board has not the slightest inkling of what its job is or how it should be carried out; when the heads of this institution think their job is to fight each other, and that their positions exist for that purpose; the sad conclusion is that the IBA must be shut down, and the sooner the better.
October 16, 2013
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 16/10/2013
There is no alternative but to advance legislation and use the law to try and regulate the press.
Autumn is upon us and with it come the shouts and cacophony of the fall session of the Knesset. There are weighty and serious issues for our elected representatives to deal with concerning our country’s security, diplomatic standing and future. Social legislation is also on the agenda, and this includes media issues.
Just mention the term “regulation” and our media professionals become irritated, to say the least. Media oversight is not a favorite topic among journalists.
But just as we expect the authorities to make sure that restaurants are hygienic, we should also expect that the press, printed, broadcast as well as electronic, is held to minimal standards which protect the public from unethical practices.
Experience shows that voluntary codes, such as those of Israel’s Press Council, are insufficient.
There is no alternative but to advance legislation and use the law to try and regulate the press.
Media bias is undemocratic, and, when practiced by statesponsored and state-supported broadcasting networks – the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Second Authority for Television and Radio, Israel Educational Television Network and Army Radio – it is illegal.
It is in essence the implementation of extreme minority rule by a few editors and TV producers, several reporters and the odd researcher.
Bias can be implemented in many ways and it is about time our MKs applied themselves to assure that at least the media directly financed by the taxpayer is fair and pluralistic. Commercial radio and television could also benefit from more equal opportunity and pluralism.
With this in mind, we would suggest to the Knesset members, irrespective of their ideological makeup, that there are some pressing media-related issues which need their attention.
We start with the Army Radio station. Unlike the IBA and the Second Authority, there is no law regulating the operation of the station, or providing for its public supervision. The only applicable law – enacted this past year – deals with advertisement, and even this came about as a result of the intervention of the High Court of Justice. Must we wait for further guidelines from the Supreme Court? Wouldn’t it be better if the legislature took the initiative? We would suggest that advertisement be entirely abolished from Army Radio; a state-supported media organ competes unfairly with private radio stations that live only off of their advertising income. Only an extra NIS 7.5 million per year is needed to replace Army Radio’s advertising income.
Soldiers who want to serve in Army Radio should first be required to serve 18 months of regular army duty, similar to hesder yeshiva students. Then, they would be required to serve an additional three years at the station – after all, they are getting a free education in journalism.
Going through some regular duty might also make them a bit more appreciative of what the IDF is really about.
Army Radio’s goals as a public body must be defined. It should be clear that its first obligation is to serve the needs of the Israel Defense Forces. Army Radio needs a public supervisory body, which would assure transparency of its operations, as required from any other nonprofit public organization in Israel.
Israel needs a press law, as the existing ones are mostly mandatory.
The 1933 Journalism Ordinance is still in force. A 2008 bill was tabled by then-interior minister Meir Sheetrit but it never became law.
One of the important issued raised at that time was the need for newspapers to permanently delineate the owners and publishers of the paper and their holdings. This would have made it much more difficult for publishers to use their papers to implicitly or explicitly further their business interests at the expense of the quality of the paper. It is not surprising that at that time, it was the owners who vehemently opposed this.
The proposed law mandated the appointment of an ombudsman who would deal with public complaints concerning content as well as advertising. As we know, “respectable” newspapers around the world maintain a public editor or representative, so why should Israel be different? Digital Radio: if the government sincerely wishes to free up the media and bring it into the 21st century, permitting true pluralism, it should adopt a real “open skies” policy, instead of paying only lip service to the idea. The draconian demands of the Second Authority should be removed. The airwaves should be open to anyone who wants to broadcast. Modern technology enables hundreds of stations to broadcast simultaneously, why is Israel limited to a dozen or so, most of which are regional and not national? The Israel Educational Television Network: This is a publicly funded station. Its status is that of an autonomous unit within the Education Ministry. Is it really needed? We believe that Israel has too many publicly funded media stations and that this is one which should be closed down. However, if this is not possible for political reasons, then at least it, too, must be regulated and its operations made transparent.
The IBA: So much ink has been wasted on this ancient institution which refuses to be modernized. The Knesset controls its budget; it should use its power to force the IBA to serve the public instead of the present situation whereby the public is the servant of the IBA.
The scandal surrounding the rejection of the Latma satirical program while using covert tactics to authorize extreme leftwing satire is but one example of the terminal sickness of this body. A general debate on this specific issue would contribute to a public review of what the real task of public broadcasting in Israel is, and of who it serves.
Our recommendation is that the Knesset support Communication Minister Gilad Erdan in his demand that TV Channel 1 be closed down, reformed completely and only then be allowed to go back on air.
Media licensing: This is not only needed for radio stations.
The present law regulating the TV stations is so complex and demanding that in practice it prevents new players from entering the field. It must be altered significantly.
Amalgamating regulatory bodies: Israel has too many public broadcasters, but not less problematic is the proliferation of regulatory bodies. We should learn from others. An Israel Federal Communications Commission should be established, and it should be given the responsibility of overseeing all of Israel’s broadcasters. The regulations should be limited to the bare essentials and enforced without leniency.
Website monitoring: No, we are not suggesting regulating private websites, quite the contrary.
The web is mostly a breath of fresh air. But too many of the publicly supported media franchises use their websites without care for media ethics. This should be and can be regulated.
We have touched upon a number of topics, but there are many more, such as the question whether Israel’s Press Council should be mandated by law, the revision of the law governing rating of programs with respect to violence, sex and drugs. The predecessors of this Knesset almost always gave in to media demands, motivated by self-preservation. Will the present Knesset outdo itself and provide the public with true social media legislation?
October 11, 2013
|Media Comment: Must journalists respect the law?|
In the 1998 movie film Deep Impact, the US treasury secretary, played by James Cromwell, attempts to persuade a reporter to refrain from investigating a story. He turns to her and says: “Look, I know you’re just a reporter, but you used to be a person, right?” Investigative reporting presents ethical and moral challenges. The reporter’s instinct that someone must be guilty pushes her or him to try and prove the culprit’s offenses.
Material is typically fed to the reporter through sources and leaks and is often anonymous. The reporter must judge whether the information is reliable or not, and even if convinced that a crime took place, where are the limits? Is the journalist above the law? In 2009, in the United States, State Department adviser Stephen Kim allegedly revealed information concerning North Korea to Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen.
Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department were then tracked by the FBI, which traced the timing of his calls, and obtained a search warrant to read his emails. US law makes it a criminal act to publish classified information revealing government cryptography or communications intelligence.
Did Rosen do the right thing? He felt compelled to fulfill his professional calling; do we praise him for this? Is he a role model or a criminal? Another case is that of former UK News of the World’s Dan Evans. He was charged last month with conspiring to intercept communications (a.k.a. phone hacking) of well-known people. The phone hacking scandal of two years ago resulted in some 60 journalists arrested with 27 having been charged and 12 cleared. Was Evans a crusader, seeking information and upholding the public’s right to know, or was he a criminal? Israel has its own such scandals.
The journalists involved often justify their actions by charging that their investigative abilities are hampered by those “evil forces of fascism who have taken over our democracy.”
They appeal to the court of public opinion to try and evade conviction for their infractions.
A most recent case is that of Haaretz’s Uri Blau and Shai Grinberg.
Blau became notorious through the Anat Kam affair. He received classified IDF information which was taken from the army without authorization by soldier Anat Kam. Kam, who is not a reporter, was convicted for espionage and providing confidential information without authorization.
She was sent to jail.
Blau, in July 2012, accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to four months of community service. But it would seem Blau had no remorse, believing that the message society was giving him was that indeed the journalist should at times take the law into his own hands, which leads us directly to a story that is now unfolding.
BLAU AND his investigator Shai Grinberg were indicted two weeks ago for trespassing. According to police, they illegally entered a religious hostel for young girls in distress.
This story has its beginnings in a lengthy May 27, 2011, report by the due about what they described as “the right-wing organization Lehava, noted for its vehement anti-assimilation views… many of its members are disciples of Meir Kanhane. Yet Hemla [Mercy], a group closely linked to Lehava, receives state funding for its rehabilitation work with Jewish women.” Blau and Grinberg claim that “the heads of the association [Hemla] are outright Kahanists.”
The topic of their investigation was Hemla’s activities in trying to rehabilitate Jewish girls who were romantically involved with Arabs. They quoted the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s legal commentator Moshe Negbi, who said, “There’s no question that opposition to assimilation is a legitimate religious and even Zionist viewpoint, in the context of freedom of expression. But if you carry it out by means of incitement to racism, by violent means or threats, then it crosses the criminal line.”
The very long article in fact does not contain a shred of evidence linking the Hemla organization to any illegal activity, incitement and whatnot.
Blau was frustrated because he was not allowed into the hostel, was not able to interview the inmates and also stonewalled by the authorities.
But there was a more sinister reason for Blau’s frustration. According to the police, Blau and Grinberg entered the Hemla hostel illegally and filmed various rooms (which were empty). They did not know that Hemla’s security cameras had recorded their activities. In a taped telephone interview shortly after the break-in, Grinberg claimed they did not move around in the building but just entered to see if anyone was there and then immediately exited.
The video tape was posted on the Internet, and it is obvious she was lying.
Blau and Grinberg will probably claim in their defense that their activities are the norm of “good” investigative journalism in Israel. In 2006, then-general Elazar Stern leaked data from the personal file of soldier Hanan’el Dayan to then-journalist Yair Lapid. Dayan, in protest against the expulsion from Gaza, refused to shake hands with the IDF’s commanding officer Dan Halutz during the ceremony for outstanding soldiers at the President’s Residence, raising Stern’s wrath.
Dayan went to court and Stern was fined NIS 31,500. The journalist, Lapid, went scot-free. He is today our finance minister, while Stern is a Knesset Member belonging to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party.
In June 2006, Israel Broadcasting Authority journalist Benny Lis illegally opened the door of the Adler family’s private residence in Chavat Maon and filmed inside. This footage was then broadcast in a news report on the IBA’s Channel 1 TV. We complained to the IBA at that time, noting the illegality of Lis’s actions. The IBA defended Lis’s actions. We filed a complaint with police but Lis was not even called in for investigation.
Last July, Channel 10 reporter Doron Herman disguised himself as a religious soldier and entered the Mea She’arim quarter of Jerusalem in an attempt to provoke a violent response from the local residents.
It is illegal in Israel to disguise oneself as a soldier.
Herman was not fishing for information like Blau and Grinberg, he was trying to provoke a potentially violent scene in an attempt to get a “good” story. However, the executive director of Channel 10, Golan Yochpaz, had no regrets. In his response letter, he stated: “Part of the journalistic spirit of our society is the attempt to evaluate and expose issues, failures and injustices. At times, to expose issues of public interest, one must also use disguise.”
The head of the Second Authority for TV and Radio, Dr. Ilan Avisar, accepted Yochpaz’s defense. The journalist, Herman, got off scot-free.
Evidently, the norm in Israel is that journalists are allowed to break the law. Blau’s real failure is not that he broke the law, but that in doing so he was not able to expose anything wrong at the Hemla organization.
Had he succeeded, he might even have been elected to the honor roll of the Ometz organization or the Movement for Quality Government.
October 3, 2013
by YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 02/10/2013
Lynn Schofield-Clark of the University of Denver addresses the theme of “cultivating the media activist.”
In the current issue of Journalism, an academic periodical, Lynn Schofield-Clark of the University of Denver addresses the theme of “cultivating the media activist.” She notes that the challenge of educating a new generation of journalists involves more than issues such as public service, impartiality and the ideal that journalism should be autonomous. Nowadays, she argues, one must also face topics such as multiculturalism and new media with all their implications.
She proposes that media activism, public journalism, and critical service learning may contribute to a new framework of a journalistic worldview, one that will lead to criticizing “existing arrangements of power and to develop a globally sensitive perspective… [to] reflect a deep appreciation for… the diverse communities they serve.”
That model of the “educated journalist” is implicit in a recent report from The Atlantic of a new trend of mainstream media journalists joining the Obama administration. The most recent is Time managing editor Rick Stengel, who is now employed by the State Department.
There are, at present, at least 15 former journalists in the American government.
In 2009, The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe counted 10.
The media outlets from which the journalists came include CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, The Washington Post, Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times.
This crossing of the lines is not unfamiliar to us in Israel.
Local journalists have joined the government as press secretaries, media liaisons and even more so as elected Knesset members and ministers. The blurring between journalist, politician and public servant presents the media consumer with a multi-faceted problem.
Once a journalist becomes more concerned with influencing society, government or history than with the difficult task of reporting the news as factually as possible, there is the imminent danger of the profession becoming a tool for furthering political/public goals instead of propagating knowledge.
Jonathan Bernstein illustrates this point in a media criticism column at the liberal/Left Salon website. . He writes, “if you were expecting the press to give you the full story on Syria, you [were] left disappointed. Here are five things that (most of) the press got totally wrong….”
He sums up so: “The press… utterly failed to find, or at least to consistently use, a vocabulary for what was on the table…. A vocabulary is really needed to make [matters] clear.” He knows that the media in America overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama due to their identification with his policies, as many polls have proven.
If a journalist begins to view him/herself as part of the story, or worse, part of the future story, then credibility, objectivity and professional ethics become irrelevant. It makes no difference if the failures are due to left-wing, right-wing, liberal or conservative bias. The result is fact-free journalism; emotive presentations and rhetoric rather than reality. It leads to news distortion highlighting partisan political viewpoints.
Stephen Ward, of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, wrote in August that a new media ethics is evolving. It questions the principle of impartiality, replacing it with only a need for “clarification” of meanings.
The new values include “transparency over objectivity; or, a preference for the unfiltered sharing of information over a filtered verification of ‘the facts.’” He further suggests that “we need to reinvent media ethics.”
WHAT WE are witnessing here is an attempt to subvert journalism.
The result? People who require real information so as to know who to vote for, where to go for vacations, what is happening in their school system, etc., can no longer trust their news sources. Professional journalism today too often implies serving the powerful and the rich.
Someone with a different approach is Simon Houpt of Toronto’s Globe and Mail. He thinks, as he stated in a September 19 interview, that he’s “bound by certain ethical precepts I try to live my life by…
it’s more instructive to think of [journalism as] a trade rather than a profession… building up a superstructure of journalism ethics is part of a process of trying to exclude the hoi polloi from the process of reporting and commenting on the news.”
Hypocrisy among journalists is rampant. Let’s consider Alaska.
Less than two weeks ago, a former legislator was fined $18,000 for breaking state ethics rules. Republican Alan Dick double-charged travel expenses (remind you of any former Israeli prime minister?).
His “lack of attention to detail,” the Legislative Ethics Committee found, was “unacceptable” for a public official.
When was the last time a journalist had to face punishment – financial or otherwise – for similar infractions? To be sure, it has happened in Israel. Natan Zehavi, who just this week compared Israel’s chief rabbis to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, was forced to apologize for his antics (sort of) in a live broadcast in February 2012. In May 2010, Gabi Gazit, who had referred to ultra-Orthodox Jews as “leeches” and “worms” noted afterward that he was referring only to the extremists.
But this is not the norm.
Zehavi, Gazit and their ilk are themselves extremists, dancing on the fine line between legitimate criticism and vulgarity.
When they cross it too far, they are forced to “sort of” apologize. Journalists deride and highlight actual foibles of public personalities. Events that may have never happened become at times, their center of attention. Too many journalists refuse to be bound by any meaningful code of ethics.
It is mainly due to the pressures brought by media review groups in Israel that the media branja, (Hebrew jargon for “clique”) has seemingly moderated its opposition to being held accountable to the regulations and codes they are legally bound to adhere to.
To defend themselves, they and other like-minded journalists seek to redefine their profession’s obligations.
For example, claiming that “balance” supposedly cannot be achieved, they at best limit themselves to try and assure “fairness.” While every politician is subject to the laws and decisions of the activist Supreme Court, journalists refuse to be reined in by same.
The Supreme Court almost always absolves journalists from of responsibility in any case, in the name of freedom of expression.
WE, THE media consumers, are facing a three-pronged offensive on media ethics. In the first place, it is asserted that no outside regulator can judge the journalists. Media ethics must not discommode the journalist nor intrude into his life and work. Only the journalists can decide how to respond to criticism, and surely any form of actual punishment is unacceptable.
Lastly, they claim for themselves the right to reinterpret ethics so as to be permitted to “educate” and “guide” the public.
This is not an ethical relationship.
The profession will regain the public’s confidence only when it replaces subjectivism with proper news reporting.