(photo credit: COURTESY OF IBA)
Steve Leibowitz, the Chief Editor of IBA News in English, and the last member of the original IBA News team is retiring two months ahead of IBA News' silver anniversary.
When interviewed by The Jerusalem Post in 2010 just ahead of the 20th anniversary, he was still sufficiently optimistic to dream about an English-language Israeli broadcasting service modeled on Al-Jazeera.
But he’s not dreaming any more.
Strictly speaking he doesn’t have to retire at the end of September. He will celebrate his 64th birthday on October 2, and the law allows him to continue at his job until he is 67, but Leibowitz, like so many other employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority is uncertain about the future, and the severance package offered to people who are willing to retire at 64 is so attractive, that it makes leaving worthwhile. “It would be a wrong personal decision for anyone to stay after the age of 64,” says Leibowitz.
He points out that under current circumstances the final date for the dismantling of the IBA is September 30. On the other hand, the original deadline plus two extensions for the closure of the IBA have passed, and staff will in all probability continue with the routine after September 30 just as they have done to date.
But Leibowitz doesn’t want to take the risk.
It’s been a tough haul fighting for the survival of the English News which used to be broadcast at prime time, but has been tossed around from one time slot to another, denied sufficient air time and was frequently under threat of closure from head honchos who failed to understand the significance of broadcasting in English. Leibowitz also preferred it when the IBA English News was relayed from Channel One.
He misses the early days when Anan Safadi was the editor-in-chief and he was a field reporter. He misses the excitement of covering wars and national elections and being close to the action. He doesn’t like sitting behind a desk, and he also misses Leah Zinder, who he regards as one of the top professionals in the business.
Leibowitz doubts that he’ll start working for another news outlet after he leaves – but he won’t be idle. He’ll be baby sitting his grandchildren and finally he will have sufficient time to pay more attention to running the American football league. When he founded it several years ago, it was just a fun thing for mainly American immigrants who wanted to kick a ball around. But it’s grown into something much more than that with an annual budget of NIS 2.5 million and four employees.
There’s no fear that Leibowitz will be idle, but the IBA English News won’t be quite the same.