Monday, March 28, 2016

When the Times of Israel Tries to MAKE News

If you are beginning to think a witch hunt or a lynch is underway, you might well be right. Stuart Winer is the "breaking news" editor at Times of Israel. Today, he published a story that was neither breaking, nor news. It wasn't breaking because it was published at least 18 hours earlier by Haaretz, an ultra-left wing news site with what one can only hope is a waning audience. It was published 17 hours earlier by i24 News, as well.

It wasn't actually news either, except in the minds of those who are likely worried that most of Israel doesn't agree with them. And so, Haaretz, i24 News, and the Times of Israel seem to have joined hands to cross the line between reporting the news to making it up. What's the story that was neither breaking nor news?

Okay, brace yourself. The soldier who shot a terrorist, shook someone's hand.

Yeah, that's it. See, someone at the scene turned around and put out his hand and the soldier shook it. So, wow, call up the New York Times, they missed the story!

Oh wait, I forgot the important part. Well, no I didn't because there is no important part, but I forgot the point of why Haaretz and the Times of Israel's Stuart Winer are telling you this "breaking news.

You might want to sit down for this one...the person...the man...the....wow...I can do this...the SETTLER...the right-wing...no, not good enough...the "far right extremist", and an "ultra-nationalist" (what does that even mean?) none other than Baruch Marzel was the man who shook hands with the soldier.

So obviously, the soldier is guilty of murder, tax fraud, not picking up after his dog, speeding, and jay walking. How do we know? What is wrong with you people...the soldier shook hands. Are you listening, he SHOOK hands with Baruch Marzel!

What is wrong here is what plagues media all over the world. The fact is, journalism is a dying industry. People are barely buying newspapers - why should they when you can get the news for free? People get their news a hundred different ways and no one can tell you what is happening in a place faster than the person on the street who is there when it happened. So, if a bomb explodes in Brussels, Twitter will report it way faster than anyone else. We don't NEED the media to tell us what is happening.

So what do we need them for? That is the question with which many journalists are struggling. Since Winer may as well be fired because it is highly unlikely he'll ever really be able to break a story before hundreds of people already know about it, he and others like him are searching for what role they can play...and if they aren't, they should be.

Primarily what a journalist should be able to offer you is a deeper understanding of the overall situation. The person on the street will tell you about the explosion. The reporter should be able to explain the background of the suspected terrorists, the significance of the place they chose to strike etc. In other words, breaking news is nonsense - as you can see from Winer's pathetic attempt at least 18 hours after the fact.

What Winer could have done was focused on the significance of Hevron in the latest intifada...how almost daily, soldiers come under fire. They have been rammed at the entrance to Kiryat Arba, shot at, stone. Winer could have given a deeper understanding of the relationships between the army, the local Arab population, and the local Jewish population...oh, sorry - the settlers.

What Winer did, instead, was pump out a meaningless story filled with innuendos based on a handshake between a local resident and a soldier. The fact is, the local population, Jewish, that is, is one of the most welcoming in Israel. They regularly give soldiers food and drinks and shower them with gratitude. Marzel shook hands with the soldier, because that's what he does. He shakes hands with people, especially soldiers because he considers Hebron his home and so when he sees people...soldiers...in his home, he feels it is his job to welcome them personally.

Where is the story here? What is Winer trying to accomplish by pointing out that the soldier shook Marzel's hand (or actually, from the looks of the video, Marzel reached out first and the soldier responded)?

And that is where this story turns vicious. That is where Haaretz, i24, Times of Israel and Stuart Winer broke faith with true journalism and swallowed the story that an organization...oh wait, let me pretend to be Winer...a left-wing, fanatical and highly disreputable organization known as B'tselem fed to them.

The story here isn't a story. It's an attempt to manipulate, to influence the minds of readers, not to inform. No one in their right mind should think ill of a soldier because while waiting for the army to clean up the area of the terrorist attack someone walked over to him and shook his hand. But these news sites are counting on their influence, to make you swallow their slant.

Don't.

Don't allow journalists to replace their no-longer-relevant job of reporting the news with the job of thinking for you.




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