Israel's public electronic
broadcasting agencies, both radio and television, are powerful and influential
factors in the country's political, cultural, social and economic life.
Indeed, they exert a pervasive presence and succeed, more often than not, in
establishing the agenda of the day and how media consumers will perceive and
relate to that agenda. Some would even claim that they can control the
public figures themselves.
The central question addressed in
this study is whether Israelís media have expanded their roles from reporting,
observing and interpreting news to making the news and managing it.
The study indicates that electronic
media journalists, in too many instances, have been operating in blatant
violation of the normative codes of professional ethics as well as the law.
The news they bring into the living rooms of Israel's media consumers is more
than occasionally slanted, biased and non-objective. In fact, they have
proclaimed that "objectivity" is no longer a realizable goal and that media
consumers must settle for no more than "fairness".
This study outlines the reasons for
the excessive impact the electronic media possesses and deals with several
central issues which highlight, the failure to uphold the obligations of media
ethics. These include a review of balance in regular news programs; public
affairs discussion shows; treatment of the Oslo peace process; the media's role
during the aftermath of the Rabin assassination; coverage of the 1996 elections;
and sundry other topics.
In addition, the authors marshal a
significant body of material relating to the ideological identity and character
of Israel's media, including first-person accounts and testimonies.
The study is based on over three years of monitoring and researching Israel's
three television channels (Channel One, Channel Two and the Educational
Television Network) as well as the two main radio stations (Kol Yisrael [The
Voice of Israel] and IDF Army radio).
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