Study: Arab Women Are Less Than 1 Percent of radio/TV Interviewees

Channel 2 revealed to be the worst at putting Arab women on air, while Israel Radio interviews the most.

Daniel Bar-On

Arab women account for less than one percent of the people interviewed as experts by mainstream Israeli television and radio stations, according to a new project set up to monitor Arabs’ exposure in the electronic media.

The project, called Madad Hayitzug (“Representation Index”), is a joint venture between the Yifat media research company, the media criticism journal “Seventh Eye” and the Berl Katznelson Foundation. It measures how many Arabs are interviewed as experts by Israel’s leading radio and television news programs by surveying the top 19 programs in the mainstream electronic media. The current study covers March-April 2016, which included International Women’s Day.

Channel 2 television had the lowest percentage of Arab interviewees of all the media outlets studied, which also included Channel 1 and Channel 10 television, Israel Radio and Army Radio. Channel 2’s news shows hosted 1,870 interviewees, of whom only 46, or 2.5 percent, were Arabs. Moreover, only three of those Arabs were women.

The media outlet that gave the most exposure to Arab women was Israel Radio. Its main news programs, which include “Haboker Hazeh,” “Seder Yom” and “Hakol Diburim,” interviewed 1,920 people. Only 57, or 3 percent of the total, were Arabs. But fully a third of those Arabs – 19 people – were women.

The outlet that gave the most exposure to Arabs overall, however, was Army Radio. Its main news programs, “Nachon Lehaboker” and “Ma Bo’er,” interviewed 807 people, of whom 45, or 5.5 percent, were Arabs. Nevertheless, only eight of those Arabs were women.

Among the television stations, the one that interviewed the highest proportion of Arab women was Channel 10. Its news programs interviewed 2,119 people, of whom 80 were Arabs, or 3.7 percent. Of those Arabs, 13 were women.  

The state-owned Channel 1 television interviewed 2,027 people on its news programs, of whom 76, or 3.7 percent, were Arabs. But only seven of those Arabs were women.

Altogether, Arabs accounted for between 2 and 3.5 percent of the total number of experts interviewed by the mainstream electronic media, even though they constitute nearly 21 percent of the population. And excluding Knesset members, the proportion of Arab interviewees shrinks to about 1.5 percent on average.

Overall, the 19 programs surveyed hosted 8,743 people, of whom only 304, or 3.4 percent, were Arabs. Of these, just 50 were women.

The programs that stood out for excluding Arab women were Channel 2’s “Sheish Am,” “Ulpan Shishi” and “Meet the Press,” Channel 1’s “Erev Hadash” and “Yoman,” and Army Radio’s “Nachon Lehaboker.” The number of interviewees on each of these programs ranged from 155 to 361 during the two months surveyed. But not one of those hundreds of interviewees was an Arab woman.

“The past two months, as you know, included International Women’s Day, so in theory, the number of female interviewees would have been even higher than at other times,” noted Anat Rosalio of the Berl Katznelson Foundation. “Yet major programs completely excluded Arab women. We see that for the Hebrew-language media, there’s no such thing as an Arab woman teacher, scientist, athlete or doctor.

“The Israeli public learns from the media that there are no Arab women – or if there are, they are necessarily primitive in the worst case or at best nice pharmacists named Salma. In this reality, which the media create, we lose the stories, ideas and knowledge of a huge segment of society with successes that are not inconsiderable in many civilian fields. This hurts us, undermines our fabric of life together and leaves us with ignorance and fear of the other.”