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Maariv daily paper purchased by ultra-rightist publisher

Israel’s 3rd largest daily is expected to merge with Makor Rishon, a conservative paper especially popular among settlements, and edited by Netanyahu’s former chief of staff.

The Hebrew media is reporting today (Friday) that Maariv, the 3rd largest daily paper in Israel, will be sold to Shlomo Ben-Zvi, the publisher of the rightwing broadsheet Makor Rishon.

Maariv has been losing money for a decade. The paper’s financial troubles got worse after the introduction of Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom – a daily paper distributed for free at considerable loss. Maariv was recently under immediately threat of shutting down. Employees were notified this week that only one-third of this month’s salary would be paid on time.

Following a meeting between Ben-Zvi and the owner of Maariv, businessman Nochi Dankner, it emerged that Maariv will change hands in exchange for NIS 85 million ($22 million).

Under Ben-Zvi, Maariv is expected to merge with Makor Rishon, a paper known for its ultra-rightist political line. The editor in-chief of Makor Rishon is Uri Elizur, former chief of staff for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Last year, it was made known that Elizur wrote speeches and provided editing services for Netanyahu while serving as Makor Rishon’s editor. Among other contributors for Makor Rishon are Haggai Segal, a former member of the Jewish Underground, and Dr. Yoaz Hendel, former spokesperson for Netanyahu (both write op-eds for Yedioth Ahronoth as well).

Makor Rishon has a reputation for high-quality reporting and analysis (albeit from an extremely conservative position). The tagline on the paper’s website is “Makor Rishon, the most Jewish – a national Israeli paper.” (the Hebrew use of the word “national” here is as a common synonym for rightwing, as in “the national camp”, and not in line with the American usage, which refers to the area of coverage.)

The purchase of Maariv is likely to increase the influence of Netanyahu and the right on the media market in Israel. Makor Rishon has been leading the most favorable line for the settlements in the Israeli media.

Prime Minister Netanyahu already enjoys the blunt support of Israel Hayom, which, due to its ever-growing free-of-charge distribution, is now the most widely read paper in Israel. Recently, it was discovered that a top political pundit for Israel Hayom also works at the Prime Minister Office.

UPDATE: It’s worth mentioning that the current editor of Maariv, Nir Hefetz, is also a former speaker of Netanyahu, though the paper showed a lukewarm approach to the prime minister under him.

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    1. Bluegrass Picker of Afula

      At the beginning of time, there were maps published which showed that the Earth is flat and that if you sail to the edge…. you fall off the Earth.

      once people understood that such a factual description was wrong….. the inventory of those maps completely lost their market value. No one would actually pay to have one.

      Once people realized that Israeli Leftist Journalists are mis-representing facts, and fabricating false allegations…. they ALSO couldn’t sell their newspapers any more!!

      It’s ok. The inventory can still be used to wrap fish.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bluegrass Picker of Afula

      nice discussion of the fact that journalists produce a ==product== to be peddled; and that the marketplace for Lefty dissing of Israel is virtually all people who are too lazy to learn to read Hebrew, and who can’t vote in Israel:


      Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      Democracy, shumcracy

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      This will probably have no real political significance, since Ma’ariv has been on a downward trajectory for the better part of a decade, and has, in the last few years, become one of the worst rags to be produced in Israel today (I would rate it below Israel Hayom). Netanyahu won’t be able to extract too much political capital from this sh’mateh of a newspaper for precisely the reason it is out of business – it has no readers and no prospects for acquiring any in the future. I say to the settlers who will now embrace this paper – enjoy the literary stylings of the great and talented Ma’ariv writers. At least Ben Caspit still has a job!

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Maariv has a 13% national market share, more than double that of Haaretz. That is a lot of non-settler eyeballs. Maariv wasn’t exactly left-wing before, so I don’t know if it going slightly more to the right will have much significance. They are going from being edited by a former Bibi spokesman to being edited to a former Bibi chief of staff.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      So… Isn’t Haaretz having financial difficulties as well? I can’t wait until Gideon Levy and Amira Hass join 972mag as unpaid bloggers, eh, because I care so deeply about the success of 972mag, obviously.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mitchell Cohen

      What’s up with Yediot Ahronot? I have seen that paper being given away for free (and I don’t mean on El Al). Are they on the verge of bankruptcy as well?

      Reply to Comment
      • Unlike Maariv, Yedioth never issued stocks to the public so it doesn’t have to publish its financial reports. The speculations are that they are doing ok, but extremely worried from the future.

        Reply to Comment