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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.