MEDIA COMMENT: Media appreciation
It is our hope that the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism makes a significant contribution to improving media standards
Illustrative photo Photo: Thinkstock/Imagebank [illustrative]
A good word or a pat on the back may be sometimes much more
helpful then constant criticism. This is even more so when the good word is
deserved. It is for this reason that Israel’s Media Watch celebrates “good”
media with its annual prize award ceremony.
The Abramowitz Israel Prize
for Media Criticism is being awarded this year for the thirteenth
One may obtain some feeling for the quality of the award, by
considering previous laureates. In fact many of them have continued their
excellent work, irrespective of whether they have been given additional prizes
In the year 1999, the first prizes ever were awarded to Motti
Golan, today at the Globes newspaper, and Yoav Yitzchak, the editor of the News
1 website. Both have persevered with their media review work. Both are
relentless in their pursuit of truth. They set a standard for future media
In fact, this year, the prize committee of IMW was so
impressed by Golan’s work it decided to award him a special citation at this
year’s award ceremony in recognition of his Globes column. For example, Golan,
in contrast to many of his counterparts, did not hesitate to criticize the
methods used by his colleague Ilana Dayan in her Uvda program, which purportedly
documents wrongdoings within Israeli society. Even Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu would feel the sharp side of his pen for backing down from legislation
which would curb the freedom of the press to harm individuals.
prizes is not an easy job. Sometimes, one does not find enough deserving
candidates, but life is much more difficult when there are too many and one has
to make a tough decision. One way of easing it is by noting those who deserve
Neri Avneri is one of those unique people in Israeli society
who feels the urge to donate his time and effort for the sake of all of us. For
this purpose he has a hardcopy media archive in his home.
He has also
created a media archive website (neri-avneri.co.il) which provides the public
with archival material that in his words “our media prefers to hide.”
example, if you want to know what our politicians had to say in their past about
“united Jerusalem,” go to his website. You will be reminded for example that our
president, Shimon Peres, declared the slogan “Peres will divide Jerusalem,”
which starred in the 1996 election campaign, as “a blood libel.”
Beilin and Yossi Sarid made an oath on their honor that Jerusalem would not be
IMW will also give Avneri a special citation for his dedicated
media review service. Avneri deserves the recognition which the Israeli media
does not give him.
A THEME which has appeared more than once in our
columns is the lack of interest of our mainstream media in some of the
minorities in Israel. This disinterest has been recently documented by Aref Abu
Gwedr, a graduate student in Communications at Ben-Gurion University who wrote a
paper on “The perception of young Israeli Arabs of the portrayal of the Arab
population in the Israeli media.”
Abu Gwedr interviewed in depth a group
of Arab citizens of Israel to take stock of their views and perceptions on the
way Israeli Arabs are portrayed in Israel’s media. The questions touched on a
variety of facets such as cultural, humor and satire programming and
From the many quoted excerpts, it is apparent that those
interviewed consider that there exists a discriminatory view of the Arab
minority in the media.
The coverage of the Arab minority is limited and
when there are reports, they include many slighting remarks as well as negative
portrayals. It is their feeling that as a result, the Arab citizens of Israel do
not achieve genuine and appropriate media representation.
prize committee, headed by Dr. Rafi Mann, decided that Abu Gwedr well deserves
IMW’s academic prize for academic excellence in media review. One would hope
that such recognition would make a dent in the wall of our disinterested
One would also hope that such recognition contributes a wee bit to
creating a change in the perception of the young Arab population as to Israeli
society’s relation to them.
A topic which is normally ignored by various
prizes is economic journalism. Its importance cannot be belittled. We obtain our
information about financial markets, companies, governmental actions, salaries,
sales and much more from the media. Yet oftentimes we worry that the purveyor
has hidden interests, especially when reporting on powerful financial
institutions and companies.
For this reason, IMW instituted the Israel
Prize for Quality Economic Journalism which, this year, has been awarded to Yael
Ayalon of Kol Yisrael. Ayalon is a senior economic correspondent, covering
Israeli economics for many years.
The news she brings to the public
excels in its verity and depth. Her reports are balanced and pointed.
had no fear of publicizing outrageous corruption in Israel’s central Labor union
– the Histadrut.
She was the first to reveal that Israel’s employers
wanted to limit the powers of Israel’s labor court and much more.
central prize awarded is the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism. This
year it goes to two people, each of which heads a media review organization. One
is Hanoch Marmari, a former editor of Haaretz and presently the editor of the
Israel Democracy Institute’s “The Seventh Eye” Internet media review magazine.
The second is Chanie Luz, director of the Tadmit center for media review at the
Legal Forum for Eretz Yisrael.
Although both organizations may be
characterized as being left and right respectively, both have contributed
significantly to media review in Israel.
For example, the Seventh Eye
provides the interested reader, lawmaker and researcher with comprehensive
information about the movement toward conditioning the usage of news portals
with payment, as being now practiced by the Haaretz newspaper. The magazine
covers in depth various issues having to do with their perception of
mismanagement at the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Luz exposed during
her work extreme bias against the settlers and the settlement movement at the
Army Radio station Galatz. Her organization has carried out and publicized
comparative studies of how certain issues are covered by our media, showing the
disparity between human rights efforts when it comes to Arabs, Jews and
settlers. Luz has a weekly media review column in the Besheva weekly and is
involved in many different aspects of media review in Israel.
needs its consumers and the consumers deserve good media. It is our hope that
the It is our hope that the Abramowitz Israel Prize for Media Criticism makes a significant contribution
to improving media standards, providing for a more ethical and professional
media that better serves Israel’s democracy.
The authors are,
respectively, vice chairman and chairman of Israel’s Media Watch www.imw.org.il.