Cam­paign to in­crease Is­raeli Arab com­men­ta­tors in the me­dia seen as suc­cess

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON

A cam­paign by Is­raeli NGOs to boost the Arab pres­ence in the He­brew me­dia has shown signs of suc­cess, with a jump of around 80 per­cent from Jan­uary to May, ac­cord­ing to the head of an NGO in­volved in the me­dia project.

Edan Ring, di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs at Sikkuy, told The Jerusalem Post on Mon­day that the new num­bers in­clude a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the Arab ex­perts ap­pear­ing on cur­rent af­fairs pro­gram­ming in re­cent months, fol­low­ing a cam­paign to im­prove the num­bers.

Sikkuy – the As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Civic Equal­ity, the Berl Katznel­son Foun­da­tion, and me­dia cri­tique web­site The Seventh Eye jointly co­op­er­ated in spon­sor­ing the on­go­ing me­dia monitoring project of He­brew TV and ra­dio sta­tions. In ad­di­tion, the project in­volves reg­u­larly monitoring the num­ber of Arab ex­perts and pro­fes­sion­als in­ter­viewed by the me­dia.

The pro­gram re­ceived a boost with the launch two weeks ago of a He­brew data­base of dozens of Arab ex­perts in var­i­ous fields, on the web­site The ex­pert list is pe­ri­od­i­cally up­dated, and in­cludes var­i­ous fields such as medicine, high-tech, tourism, and for­eign pol­icy.

Mak­bula Nas­sar, man­ager of the A-List project run by the Is­raeli NGO ANU in co­op­er­a­tion with Sikkuy, told the Post that the web­site is meant to help the He­brew me­dia find Arab ex­perts in or­der to make their pro­grams more in­ter­est­ing and di­verse.

“The pub­lic agenda is be­ing formed in the main­stream me­dia, and the on­go­ing con­flict is af­fect­ing ev­ery as­pect of our lives, so we had to do some­thing,” said Nas­sar, who also is ac­tive in Arab Is­raeli me­dia.

“There are so many ex­cel­lent Arab ex­perts that even many within Arab so­ci­ety don’t know about,” she said, not­ing that they in­clude doc­tors, fi­nance ex­perts, and fe­male ex­perts.

The Is­raeli me­dia tends to seek Arab ex­perts only to dis­cuss Arab is­sues, but hope­fully this will change, she added.

In ad­di­tion, the A-List project plans to hold work­shops and train­ing for Arab ex­perts on how to deal with the me­dia.

Nas­sar said the re­sults so far have been promis­ing, with many calls from the He­brew me­dia in­quir­ing about Arab ex­perts on their list.

The ini­tial re­port in March showed Arab in­ter­vie­wees were un­der­rep­re­sented in He­brew broad­cast me­dia at a rate of only 2%. Be­fore the pub­lic cam­paign be­gan, they found that only some 30 Arab ex­perts were in­vited per month to be in­ter­viewed in var­i­ous types of me­dia out­lets.

In May, the num­ber rose by 80% to 50, and in the last two months the av­er­age rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Arabs ap­pear­ing on the top news pro­grams rose to 3.7% from 3% or less be­fore the project be­gan.

“The pos­i­tive re­sults are due to the pub­lic pres­sure on the me­dia,” said Ring. “By pub­li­ciz­ing the ac­tual mag­ni­tude of Arab ex­clu­sion in the me­dia, we were able to cre­ate mo­ti­va­tion and in­crease the de­mand for Arab in­ter­vie­wees amongst de­ci­sion mak­ers in the dif­fer­ent pro­grams.”

“The launch of the new data­base comes just in time,” he added.

In ad­di­tion, the project also keeps track of the num­bers of Arab guests on 19 lead­ing cur­rent af­fairs pro­grams on five chan­nels, and pub­lishes a weekly com­par­a­tive ta­ble.


SOME OF the Arab ex­perts and pro­fes­sion­als who are be­ing pro­moted to be used as com­men­ta­tors on cur­rent af­fairs pro­gram­ming, fol­low­ing a cam­paign to im­prove their pres­ence.

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