Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Israel and the Fall of Dictatorial Journalism

May 17, 2012 9:45 am 1 comment

The Haaretz newspaper.

A disturbing trend is developing, according to the Israel Defense Forces official blog, whereby terror attacks against Israel routinely go unreported. “Though they’re very significant,” writes the IDF blogger, “A lot of incidents are never published.” The site goes on to list 12 notable incidents of thwarted terror attempts all of which took place this year.

This notable omission is no small travesty, especially as the power of media influence in shaping minds and policy is well known. An astute reader recently shared with me a saying that he had heard in Hebrew, which translated into English reads, “nowadays, kingship has been transposed by journalism.” How true, whereas in imperial days of old, the status of all subjects and members of the court as well as national priorities, sentiment and campaigns were determined by the monarch; today they are largely influenced by powerful media voices and trends rallying behind individuals and causes, then just as quickly, banishing them as they see fit.

The comparison becomes even more concise when one considers the role that editors play in most mainstream media outlets today. When it comes to setting the priority agenda in their own personal fiefdoms, in most cases, the editor calls the shots.

A rare public glimpse into this process was made available with the release last year of Page One: Inside the New York Times, a documentary film by Andrew Rossi, which depicts a page one editorial meeting, in which Editor Bill Keller, after fielding pitches from his senior editorial staff literally sets the daily news priority items for millions of readers, by assigning them to the paper’s front page. A similar process was captured in a video featuring Bill O’Reilly posted on gawker.com by the now infamous Fox News mole.

Most of the major news media organizations today are essentially run as editorial dictatorships.

The implications of this truth as far as Israel and Jews around the world are concerned can be very troubling as per the concern expressed by the IDF, and is largely the result of the editorial totalitarianism concept. If terror attacks against the Jewish state are under-reported, one could mistakenly be led to believe that security threats faced by Israel’s citizens are diminishing and as such concessions to Arab demands may be more justified, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

As I write, on the home page of the BBC’s international news website, there is a report about Arab terrorists held in Israeli jails who conducted a hunger strike. No such attention was accorded to the May 7th and May 10th attempted terror attacks against Israelis noted by the IDF blog, and other such relevant components of the Israel Arab narrative.

Even the story about the recent Toulouse killings was relegated to the bottom of the Huffington Post’s homepage, until the nail-biting siege on the killer’s residence compelled the editors to reconsider.

However, recent developments in the news media industry mark the dawn of an era of unparalleled opportunity for Jews and Israel in ensuring that our voice is heard. The ‘media spring’ of the last decade is increasingly sidelining the prominence of dictatorial journalism through the rise of democratized content models. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a myriad of lesser known platforms allow for every individual to determine and broadcast their own perceived global priorities.

The challenge at this point, in the decentralization of the various voices, is that in most cases their reach, audience and impact are limited. But as alternative news media mechanisms emerge that are designed to draw together and amplify these voices such as our own publication, The Algemeiner, the influence of old media icons will become increasingly diminished.

On Sunday, Israeli daily Haaretz became the first Jewish focused news outlet to implement a pay-wall in an effort to offset its deficit. The paper follows the lead of the New York Times with which it has established a formal circulation partnership.

Although this move may serve to lessen red ink prominence on the company’s balance sheet, it also signifies a retreat into an ivory tower that comes with the inevitable diminished audience and thus declining influence that the pay-wall will bring about.

This and similar withdrawals coupled with the rise of real representative journalism presents an era of great fortuity for the dissemination of Jewish ideas. It is up to our nation’s entrepreneurial idealists to rise to this task.

The Author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

1 Comment

  • Correct, also the Israeli mainstream-lamestream media does not report the daily rocket attacks. Thank goodness for Arutzsheva (illegal) / aka IsraelNationalNews which DOES report what’s actually happening in Israel…

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →