Haaretz Publisher: Self-censorship Is Greatest Threat to Press Freedom

Amos Schocken tells conference sponsored by the French Embassy in Israel in cooperation with Haaretz that many journalists are concerned about alienating their readers.

Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken warned Monday that self-censorship in the Israeli media poses the greatest threat to the freedom of the press. Speaking during a panel debate on press freedom as part of the “Democracy and its Challenges” conference sponsored by the French Embassy in Israel in cooperation with Haaretz, Schocken said that many journalists are hesitant to be too controversial, for fear of alienating their readers.

Amos Schocken

Schocken cited his own experiences with Haaretz readers who were resentful of the coverage given to the Palestinians by reporters from his own newspaper.

“Let’s talk about a different kind of censorship,” he said. “Self-censorship that stems from the fact that the media does not want to upset its readership. I am referring to the responses that I get regarding Haaretz articles about the Palestinians’ situation.

"During periods of calm there are no responses, but in turbulent times people send emails to the newspaper, copying in all of their friends, that they are halting their subscription because they are unable to read Gideon Levy or Amira Hass anymore. And the newspaper must ask itself if it wants to absorb this.

“It is no coincidence that in a country such as ours there are two or three journalists who see the subject of the Palestinians as their central focus,” he continued. “There are even journalists in Israel for whom it is possible to expect the subject of the Palestinians to be as important as sports, celebrities or film, and who are involved with this. And each time I see how Israeli society finds it difficult to accept this.”