Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Was Journalism About Israel Like In 1969?

In his book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership, Yehuda Avner recounts an incident when he was a member of Prime Minister Golda Meir's staff. He had a meeting with an independent television newsman from Chicago who was working on a TV feature on Golda Meir and the future of Jerusalem.

Avner wanted to suggest a couple of books for the journalist to read:

He sounded shocked. "Me -- a book? I don;'t have time for books. Guys like me have to rely on guys like you for information."

"So how do you hope to produce -- ?"

"You see those guys over there?" He stopped me, pointing to a groups of ellow journalists "How many of hose people do you think ever do real research? Go on, ask them! Ask them how many know anything about the history of Zionism, or how the conflict began, or how you came to be in the West Bank. Go on, ask them." He was growing insolent in defense of his ignorance. Ask them how many know your language --even those posted here. I bet not a one. All we journalists are slaves to all-news-all-the-time deadlines. We live by them, from one to the next. Who's got the time to do research? Or bosses want human action, not complicated facts.

"So how on earth do you dig up your information?" I asked naively.

By poking our noses where your television cameras and newsmen poke theirs, and by picking the brains of guys like you, and by getting tips and gossip from Arab locals, like my cameraman upstairs." (p. 204)
Have things changed?
Most likely.
Now it's probably worse.

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