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November 13, 2013 10:37 am

“Ži24 News Has So Far Failed to Help Israel’s Digital Media Imprint

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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i24 News headquarters in Jaffa. Photo: Wikipedia.

i24 News launched in July with the mission, like so many others before them in the pro-Israel community, of correcting media misperceptions about Israel. Aiming to counter Al Jazeera, founder French mogul Patrick Drahi wanted to correct the many media inaccuracies about Israel. The theme of many of the feature stories written about the launch asked, as did The New Yorker, “Can i24 News change how the world sees Israel?”

A few months into the mission, a review of their website shows a miserable failure in understanding the digital media landscape. If you Google search “Israel news,” i24 News isn’t even close to ranking on page one for this vital search term. While the news organization’s CEO Frank Melloul said, “I want to show the world that there’s a place for new journalism from the one democracy in the region,” clearly basic “new journalism” skills are lacking thus far.

Look at their front page title tag – Instead of having something like: “i24: Israel news or Israeli TV news,” they have “Information has a new name.” Instead of using a title that directly describes their mission (so it helps on search engines), they use a cheesy tag line that doesn’t make sense. Nobody searching for “news about Israel” or “Israel news” or similar terms will find this website. This tag line appears on every single page of the site, and further diminishes their online rankings by not using search engines properly.

Many in the Jewish and Israeli media world have spoken about countering Al Jazeera – but the bottom line is that Al Jazeera has built a great reputation around creating high-quality news. It’s too early to say much about i24 News, which is an ambitious twenty-four-hour news station, but let’s hope they get better at communicating in the digital media landscape.

I have written previously on this topic, including pointing out that “The American Jewish Establishment Must Embrace Social Media,” and Israel’s horrible social media presence, yet nearly across the board, the Pro-Israel community has failed miserably in its online information efforts. It’s a shame.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a Pro-Jewish or Pro-Israel organization would fund a project to help pro-Israel sites rank better online and better utilize the digital media arena? There are so many Jewish Pro-Israel people in the digital media and public relations world who’d work at cost, and it would make such a difference.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky highlighted this need clearly way before there were search engines: “The work of the publicist is a legacy from the Prophets of Israel…Our passion is to speak, to proclaim—’Shouting’ is what the same audience calls it, ‘we have no need for words, give us actions.’ One thing that audience forgets is that speech is also an action – Perhaps the most authentic of all other actions.”

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that i24 News has not updated its Facebook account since July 17th, and has not been active on Twitter for the past 45 days.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the twenty-five largest American Public Relations companies.

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