We are witnessing the emergence of a new kind of media in Israel and Palestine — the kind that truly has the potential to transform how we see this place.
We are in the midst of an immense transformation in the media landscape. The way people communicate and consume information and knowledge is being fundamentally altered. It is hard to perceive the scope of this change, because it is still ongoing. The situation right now does not necessarily represent the end point of this process; we are at a rare moment: the future is still malleable, and we can mold it in a variety of shapes.
Technological advancements – the computer, internet, and cellular revolutions – are catalyzing this change, but they will not determine its form. On the one hand, technology allows new and small players to challenge even the mightiest corporations, distributing information and opinions which were not accessible to the broader audience in the past. On the other hand, they provide an opening for the creation of unprecedented global monopolies, such as Facebook and Google. The direction of the change in media field is ultimately up to us, the public. Will we be consumers, subjects or citizens?
Within Israel, there is an open struggle for control of mass media. Israel’s most popular daily, Israel Hayom, was established as a right-wing, pro-Netanyahu mouthpiece. Recent investigations have uncovered talks between the Prime Minister and the publisher of the second most popular daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, about exchanging positive coverage for protection from Israel Hayom’s competition. On yet another front, Netanyahu is seeking to undermine Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, as well as other mainstream media outlets that are not to his liking, as part of his effort to block criticism of him or his government.
All of these are major developments, but to a great extent, this is a battle over a declining field, as it is taking place in the arena of “old” media, which is headed for extinction. Even successful news sites, from Ynet in Israel to the New York Times, still rely on outdated models of subscriptions and advertising. We must not let these media organs, which still serve the majority...Read More