The Media Israelis Deserve

There is a continuum between the rise of the tabloids, the commercial television channels and the Internet.

A publisher is not allowed to steal his employees' pensions. A democracy needs the press, and on the other hand, Channel 10, a pale imitation of Channel 2, has never turned a profit, it uses the word "critical" in vain, and there is no reason why the public should pay for its "talents."

All that is self-evident. And yet historically, there is something new in the current crisis of information consumption.

We should recall the party-oriented newspapers, which were run by political bureaucracies. Anyone who compares the range of information it provided with the Channel 2 news, which is watched by a huge percentage of the public, can see what has been lost to information consumption, and what has been added. The Lavon Affair in the early 1960s (involving an Israeli "false flag" operation in Egypt from 1954 ) was not covered in the same way in all the party newspapers, but the reader knew more about the Korean War than he knows today about the war in Afghanistan.

In other words, there are aspects of the media crisis that are not related to the global economic crisis - for example, the ratio between the number of Hebrew readers and the total audience of the advertising market, which dictates Hebrew journalism, whose language is as simple as a photograph caption. If we add in the dominance of "security," which has increased since 1967, parallel to the growth of the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, to which a huge percentage of the population has been exposed at the expense of non-tabloid materials (coverage of the destruction of the welfare state, for example ), we are left with what is only supposedly different from the knowledge available on the Internet.

There is a continuum between the rise of the tabloids, the commercial television channels and the Internet. From the tabloids we get simple, pandering information, in the latter two we don't pay for news. What is the real price of free news? A comparison of the news broadcast of the exclusive and government-owned channel from the days of the first intifada, and the Channel 2 news today, reveals at least one fundamental difference, which is related to the increasing trend of catering to the viewer's pleasure. Tank Corps maneuvers, rioting Salafists, the iPhone, pedophilia, hit-and-run accidents - all merit news reports and moral panic. On the other hand, the viewers "are not pleased" to see what the army does to the Palestinians, for example, and therefore the coverage is hasty, not filmed, a kind of editor's comment for the record. The occupation has disappeared from our awareness, in the name of "the viewers' desire not to know." Information and commentary are sidelined, in the name of pleasure.

In the heart of this hedonistic Jacuzzi, we should also read the media crisis and characterize its consumers. The Internet has strengthened the trend: You will be exposed only to what is filtered for the purpose of your "profile," according to your Facebook wishes, or the wishes of the filters. This narcissism has a turnover of billions.

An interesting group for examining the phenomenon, as an anthropological experiment, is the one called the "Internet left" - not because they have a connection to any organization, but because of their devotion to "radical" graffiti on the screens. How many of them, who fear for the fate of Haaretz, for example, are willing to promise to pay for a subscription (or for other products of independent culture from the left )? In short, how many of those who are prophesying that "it will be terrible without Haaretz" are willing - not to edit it, not to write for it and not to demonstrate with its workers if it is closed, God forbid, but simply to pay for it?

Neo-capitalism has given rise to a new type of dependent classes in the consumption of information as well. An annual subscription to a newspaper costs less than a flight to Berlin. Take the "left-wing hipster" (according to his own definition ). Everyone is willing to be mistaken about his political commitment, except for the unglamorous employees of the newspaper: the subscription department. Here is one explanation to the question of the crisis in journalism, or the lazy collapse of the left.