Israeli Press Feeling Fear In Covering Dissenters 國難當前 以國記者憂寒蟬效應
Last weekend, at least a dozen people surrounded the home of a left-wing Israeli commentator who had expressed concern about civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip, shouting "traitor" and firing flares in his direction.
This past week, a prominent right-wing activist posted a video of himself shouting at and threatening members of a TV crew that was filming Israeli soldiers. Other journalists say they are getting threats and being harassed on social media.
But some Israeli journalists and supporters of the press say that covering the war has become even more difficult because of the vitriol they have received from fellow Israelis who have been upset by their questioning of the country's actions in response to the Hamas attacks.
Journalists and media experts attributed the change to several factors: The attacks by Hamas have been especially traumatizing for Israelis. The media environment has grown more polarized in recent years. And the spread of misinformation, particularly on WhatsApp and social media platforms including Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter, has intensified existing viewpoints.
"There are fewer people voicing opposition to the Israeli operation," said Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "There is much more vitriol toward those who do."
Sachs noted that the polarized media environment was not unique to Israel, although it has increased in the country in recent years, in part because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the press a focus of his energy. Two of three criminal cases that Netanyahu has been involved in feature accusations of wrongdoing in pursuing positive media coverage, which he has denied.
Silicon Valley Ditches News, Shaking an Unstable Industry 矽谷放棄新聞服務 新聞業更加震盪不安
文/Mike Isaac, Katie Robertson,
Campbell Brown, Facebook's top news executive, said last month that she was leaving the company. Twitter, now known as X, removed headlines from the platform days later. The head of Instagram's Threads app, an X competitor, reiterated that his social network would not amplify news.
Even Google — the strongest partner to news organizations over the past 10 years — has become less dependable, making publishers more wary of their reliance on the search giant. The company has laid off news employees in two recent team reorganizations, and some publishers say traffic from Google has tapered off.
If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: The major online platforms are breaking up with news.
Some executives of the largest tech companies, like Adam Mosseri at Instagram, have said in no uncertain terms that hosting news on their sites can often be more trouble than it is worth because it generates polarized debates. Others, like Elon Musk, the owner of X, have expressed disdain for the mainstream press. Publishers seem resigned to the idea that traffic from the big tech companies will not return to what it once was.
Even in the long-fractious relationship between publishers and tech platforms, the latest rift stands out — and the consequences for the news industry are stark.
Many news companies have struggled to survive after the tech companies threw the industry's business model into upheaval more than a decade ago. One lifeline was the traffic — and, by extension, advertising — that came from sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Now that traffic is disappearing. Top news sites got about 11.5% of their web traffic in the United States from social networks in September 2020, according to Similarweb, a data and analytics company. By September this year, it was down to 6.5%.
"The disruption to an already difficult business model is real," Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, said in an interview. LaFrance noted that while social traffic had always gone through boom and bust times, the slide in the past 12 to 18 months had been more severe than most publishers expected.
It didn't start out this way. During the rise of the consumer internet roughly 20 years ago, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter embraced journalism, and articles from traditional media companies appeared on their platforms.