Media Mirror: Corruption Enters the Spotlight This Election Season

Compared with 2013 campaign, fewer stories cover education; France terror attacks boosted coverage of security issues.

David Bachar

Israeli media are devoting more coverage to corruption during the current election campaign than they did during the 2013 campaign, a study done by Ifat Media Analysis for TheMarker shows.

The study compared the economic issues covered in the runup to the Knesset election in January 2013 with those covered in the approach to the March 17 vote this year.

Corruption is a much hotter topic now, the study shows, in all probability due to a number of high-profile police investigations, including one into figures associated with the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

An analysis of terms used in socioeconomic stories finds that the word “economy” takes the No. 1 spot in the headlines, but the word “corruption” appears second most often, appearing in about 9% of the stories, up from 1.8% in 2013.

The study, which compared coverage in January 2013 with January 2015, found that education was in third place this year, featuring in 7.5% of all of the socioeconomic news items.

But education has declined in prominence since the last election, when it was the subject of 9.5% of stories.

Housing is also less prominent now than in the previous election season, perhaps due to a sense in the media that the government’s proposals to halt the rise in housing prices here aren’t workable.

The issue has been the subject of 6.7% of the socioeconomic stories during the current electoral season compared with 9% in 2013.

Security in the spotlight

Ifat Media Analysis also found that overall news coverage has shifted as the current campaign progresses.

Early on, economic and defense-related topics got equal coverage (excluding financial news outlets).

But after the recent terrorist attacks in France - on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and on the kosher supermarket - security issues gained greater prominence at the expense of economic issues. In recent weeks coverage of security issues has declined.

Comparing the 2013 election to this year’s campaign, the study found a decline this time around in coverage of health-care issues.

And the report found a sharp decline in coverage of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. The topic was the subject of only 3.2% of the socioeconomic items in 2015, a bit more than half the attention it got in 2013.

On the other hand, the current coverage has more prominently featured the issue of poverty, at 4.3% of the items, and monopolies, at 2.8%.

The focus on monopolies was apparently generated by the current debate about whether the holdings of Israel’s two key natural-gas producers should be broken up.