Tuesday, November 30th | 26 Kislev 5782

September 9, 2016 2:16 pm

Behind The New York Times’ Blockbuster Israel Beach Bikini Video

avatar by Ira Stoll

A still from the  Reuters video published by The Times.

A still from the Reuters video published by The Times.

For better or worse, the collapse of the New York Times’ print newspaper business model is forcing the news organization to experiment with new forms of storytelling.

Sometimes it’s for the worse, as in a recent Times “virtual reality” film touting Mecca as a “city of the future.” The print Times recently did publish a big feature about a deadly stampede at the Hajj that the “virtual reality” video omitted.

At other moments, the journalism delivered by the Times in new formats seems to be an improvement over what it delivers the old-fashioned way. The print Times used the France “burkini” controversy as an opportunity to portray Israeli authorities as modern Puritans, ordering a singer to cover up. Yet on Facebook, the Times published a 34-second beach-bikini video that has garnered an astonishingly impressive 2.3 million page views and that at least to my eyes includes none of the newspaper’s usual inaccuracy or hostility to Israel. (It is, however, part of the newspaper’s ongoing and continuing obsession with bathing Jewesses.)

The video appears to have been produced and provided by the Reuters wire service rather than by the staff of the New York Times itself, so the Times certainly doesn’t deserve all of the credit. But if Times Facebook video turns out to be less hostile to Israel than the print newspaper, perhaps the newspaper’s panicky proliferation of products amid the decline of its legacy business will turn out to be good news for the Jews.

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Perhaps. On the other hand, not all the Times’ Facebook video ventures have been as encouraging. The Times’ new Jerusalem bureau chief, Peter Baker, made his debut last month with an 18-minute video from the Qalandiya checkpoint. It has drawn only 55,000 views — about 2,245,000 views less than the shorter Reuters beach-bikini video. The Baker video included such penetratingly pedestrian insights as the bureau chief’s description of “Yasser Arafat, he’s the iconic Palestinian leader, long-since passed away but still revered by many Palestinians and reviled by many Israelis. He was seen as a terrorist of course by the Israelis and a freedom fighter by the Palestinians. He signed the Oslo Accords with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel on the grounds of the White House in September 1993, a moment of hope and peace that didn’t turn out to be quite as hopeful as people had hoped for.”

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.


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