An Israel Democracy Institute survey of 76 top Israeli businesspeople (C-suite) revealed that only 59 percent believe the Israeli business press is truly independent. The survey, shared during the final session of IDI's Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society also showed that a minority (38%) believe that the business press influences the Israeli economy.
The research, conducted by the Dialogue Institute on behalf of IDI, also asked the businesspeople for the word they would use to describe the business press. The most popular were "informative" (41%) and "populist" (24%).
The report was shown during a lively session between a panel of journalists and communications leaders, including Shlomo Filber, Director General, Ministry of Communications; Hagai Golan, Editor-in-Chief, Globes; Galit Hemi, Executive Editor, Calcalist; Sami Peretz, Editor-in-Chief, The Marker; and Avner Stepak, Shareholder and ex CEO, Meitav Dash Investment House. The participants discussed the challenges being faced by media – including the business press.
"The main threat is the business and economic threat to the very existence of media," said Golan. "It is hard to find a clear and stable business model and without such a model here is a question mark over the very existence of all media outlets."
The talk escalated into one of the role and influence of the business press on society. Hemi complained that the business press is "delegitimized" by the political echelon. Filber responded that he feels the exact opposite has happened – that the business media deserves the "de-legitimate" reputation Hemi described.
"The greatest threat against the business press in Israel is the way the media conducts itself from the point of view of the content it provides," said Filber. "When it reports on financial affairs, it should focus on that. But no, the financial media is now interested in all sorts of other things – it is trying to affect what happens in the political arena, for example."
Prior to the panel, Ryan Avent, senior editor and economics columnist for The Economist, addressed the room. He said the role of the business press should be to inform and engage, adding value by helping readers to put the news in context.
"Digital technology is wreaking havoc on journalism," Avent said, noting that even top and reputable outlets like his own are now in competition with Netflix, BuzzFeed and Facebook.
He discussed five new models that can help to ensure the survival of the press:
- Combining daily news with salacious, shocking stories
- Subscription-based content
- The pay-as-you-go model being harnessed in the Netherlands, where small papers ban together and sell content by the story
- The nonprofit model, where funds are raised for investigative and quality reporting
- The tycoon model, where a billionaire buys and supports the running of a media outlet
When asked what he thinks about covering Donald Trump, Avent said, "We don’t know how to deal with someone who doesn’t care whether he is telling the truth or not."
About the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society
The Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society (formerly the Caesarea Forum) will take place May 24-25, 2016 at the Dan Hotel (Lehi St 32, Jerusalem, 97856) and bring together leading economists, government ministers and officials, prominent business people, public servants, academic experts, and other top representatives from the public and private sectors. In total, there will be 70 people sitting around the able, engaging in deep, quality discussions and delving into the most important related topics on the public agenda.
This year, the conference will focus on the challenges of government and the economy, and the influence that political stability has on the ability of the government to advance reforms and impact the performance of the business sector and the effectiveness of civil service. It will also look at the right way to integrate innovation into the government ministries, the dynamic and rapid changes of the functioning of the workforce, the collapse of the financial market, the result of people retiring at older ages, and the role business press plays in Israel.