Sunday, March 29, 2015

On the Media From Within the Media

From Yaron Dekel's op-ed, Globus, March 23:

...When I returned from the post of IBA Washington's envoy, somewhere in 2007, I came across a harsh media disease. Kadima was its name. Ehud Olmert was God, followed by Tzipi Livni who was the Holy Spirit. You could not say a bad word about them. Any criticism was considered treason of the herd, the profession and the tribe. Even when it was clear that Netanyahu had a stemming bloc after the 2009 elections, the media continued to put together another coalition headed by Livni.

During these recent elections, most of the media sinned against its role. Criticism of Netanyahu passed the line between legitimate and necessary criticism over to an aggressive and uninhibited campaign. Netanyahu, the prime minister, may not be perfect, and there are many reasons to criticise him, but the bon-ton would view him as a dark figure who will bring about the end of the state and the end of Zionism. The fact, for example, that the prime minister was cautious and hesitant not to rush on decisions on military operations, was absent from the discourse. The blackening was almost total, and any statement about this situation was met by the self-righteous response, "but Netanyahu has a newspaper". Well, and if it has? So, then, there's no obligation to ethics, to fair coverage?

Now is a good time for drawing a proper accounting and conclusions, of a professional and personal soul-searching in the media. Why did the media again assume for itself a conception? Again, we went blindly, as in a chimney, after opinion polls. And now, in the absence of proper care in substance, again they seized the headlines, and made political coverage of the story as of Sweepstakes: superficial, biased, and, as it turned out last Tuesday, detached from the field. The media lives in a bubble created by itself, being overwhelmed by the smells of its own perfumes and is not sensitive to any significant or deep currents in Israeli society.

The late Minister Uri Orbach was a ground-breaker of the entry of right-wingers in to the mainstream media...there are not enough successors to Orbach. Only a significant entry into the established mainstream media of journalists with skullcaps, residents from the periphery and those holding a right-wing line, will change the situation and free it from its 'within-a-bubble' reality.

In a country where 80% of media consumers believe in God, the media mediators must create an identification in their consumers with the media. Not for right-wingers, or those who wear crocheted kippot. On behalf of the media, its credibility and its importance in a democratic society. Without such a determined course, its status will continue to erode, unfortunately.

The author is head of Army Radio.


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