Israel Radio’s Negbi: Media skewing Schalit coverage

Moshe Negbi: Israeli media are guilty of promoting one-sided coverage of Gilad Schalit story

Schalit Freedom March AP 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Schalit Freedom March AP 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The media in Israel are guilty of promoting one-sided coverage of the Gilad Schalit story, according to Israel Radio legal commentator Moshe Negbi.
During a recent conference at the Netanya Academic College discussing communications, Negbi stated that the media were promoting the Schalit family’s agenda to garner a ratings boost, and were therefore shirking their responsibility toward the public.
Instead of critically analyzing both sides of the debate, Negbi believed, the media commentators are letting their personal beliefs cloud their journalistic integrity.
“The media is not supposed to report what the public wants to hear; instead it must focus on all the benefits and potential consequences a trade for Schalit may entail,” Negbi said.
Despite this assertion, Negbi himself said he was in favor of a deal, but wished the media would talk to the public honestly.
Most newspaper, television and radio outlets, with some exceptions, were engaging in “slanted coverage favoring the Schalit family,” he said.
Negbi was also discouraged that the Israeli public was not being critical of the media. Most of the public, he said, could easily relate to the anguish of the Schalit family and envision an eventual trade for Gilad Schalit as the only acceptable outcome. By throwing its support behind the family, the public could assuage any guilty feelings it might have about Schalit’s capture and ongoing imprisonment, he posited.
According to Negbi, the press also plays an influential role in influencing government policy.
Wanting to be seen in a good light by the public, politicians go along with the media’s narrative and might make a deal for the captive soldier not out of strategic interest, but as a means to gain popularity with the electorate, Negbi said.
Negbi noted that there were some exceptions to this otherwise homogeneous reporting, although he declined to provide specific examples. However, he believed that an objective viewer of Israeli media would see it failing in its responsibility to provide proper perspective on a debate fraught with complications.
He expressed hope that raising awareness of such failings in covering the Schalit story would prompt the media to provide more balanced coverage in the future on stories of national interest.