Dorner: Public opinion should dictate coverage of Schalit

Supreme Court justice say Schalit family will need to deal with the media at first, but Gilad will need time and space to settle in.

Gilad Schalit 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gilad Schalit 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Public opinion and not legal or political measures should be the factor that forces the media to behave in an ethical way while covering the homecoming of Gilad Schalit over the next few days, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, who is today president of the Israel Press Council, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Speaking just days before Schalit, who has been in captivity for five years, is set to be released in a prisoner exchange with Hamas, Dorner said that official controls on press freedom is not an option.
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“I would never control the media, but I will say to those who are responsible for the fate of Gilad Schalit that it is up to them to persuade the public that an invasion by the media will cause this boy harm,” she said.
“If they are successful, then public opinion itself will control the media, because the media wants to do all it can to keep the public happy.”
Dorner, who is known for her steadfast approach to press freedom from her days as a Supreme Court judge, said she believes that public opinion is one of the natural ways to control the press.
“Only those who are very brave can write something that everyone will hate or disagree with,” she said.
“I always say you don’t need press freedom to write something that fits in with the national consensus; you need press freedom for the views written that fall outside the consensus.”
According to leading psychologists who have studied the return of prisoners of war, Schalit will need time to readjust to home life and quiet time to reacquaint with his family.
“At first, the Schalit family will have no choice but to deal with the media,” commented Rachel Dekel, a professor of social work at Bar Ilan University, who has researched post-traumatic stress disorder in former prisoners of war.
“However, it is really important that Gilad and his family will be given peace and quiet to move forward with their lives,” she said, adding, “I really hope that the media will get the information it needs from the Schalits, pass it on to the nation and then let the family move on.”
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