Facts and Conclusions in Contemporary Journalism

Israel Democracy Institute

What constitutes a reasonable effort in arriving at the "factual truth" in journalism?  This is one of the central professional and ethical questions in the practice of contemporary journalism, and has a great impact on the quality of public discourse in a democratic society.  This issue, which has come before the Israeli Supreme Court several times, recently came to public attention when the Supreme Court acquitted television journalist Ilana Dayan of libel in the case of her investigative report of the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old in Gaza by an IDF commander known as Captain R.

In order to explore this question, on Sunday June 10, 2012, IDI, in cooperation with Dr. Zvi Reich of the Communications Department of Ben-Gurion University, brought together journalists and experts from other disciplines and professions for a conference on "Facts and Conclusions in Contemporary Journalism."  This interdisciplinary conference fostered extensive and in-depth discussion beyond the limitations of conventional journalistic debate, and exposed journalists to best practices from other disciplines that can inform their journalistic work.

In addition to journalists, participants in the conference included researchers from the fields of law, anthropology, philosophy, psychiatry, and history, as well as professionals such as lawyers, market analysts, investigators, police officers, intelligence officers, and handlers, who shared their insights and experience.  Questions addressed included: What defines "professional truth"?  What are the appropriate and inappropriate methods for finding and verifying facts?  When should journalists be skeptical?  How should they learn from mistakes?

One of the sessions of the conference was devoted to the various proposals for amending the Israeli libel law and to a discussion of the new edition of the book Libel Law: De Lege Lata and De Lege Ferenda, published by the Israel Democracy Institute.

11:00 a.m.


Dr. Zvi Reich, Department of Communication Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.


Moderator: Professor Yaron Ezrahi, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


  • Prof. Aviad Kleinberg, Department of History, Tel Aviv University; Editor of "Com.press," an online magazine
  • Professor (Emeritus) Harvey Goldberg, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Dr. Renana Eitan, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center
  • Dr. Arnon Keren, Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa


  • Ms. Ayala Hasson, Reporter and Political Commentator, Channel 1; Host of the primetime "Yoman" news magazine.
  • Mr. Nadav Eyal, Foreign News Editor, Channel 10
  • Mr. Jackie Khoury, Radio A-Shams
  • Mr. Uzi Benziman, Editor of "The Seventh Eye" online magazine; The Israel Democracy Institute and the School of Communication, College of Management

12:45 p.m.-1:15 p.m.


1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m.


Moderator: Prof. Naama Sheffi, School of Communication, Sapir College


  • Former Justice Eliyahu Matza, Former Vice-President of the Supreme Court
  • Attorney Inbal Rubinstein, Former National Public Defender
  • Mr. Alon Glazer, Vice President of Research, Leader Capital Markets
  • Dr. Andre Levy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


  • Mr. Sever Plocker, Yediot Acharonoth
  • Mr. Yaakov Ahimeir, Journalist, Channel One
  • Ms. Hadas Steiff, Galei Tzahal (Army Radio)
  • Mr. Hanoch Marmari, Former Editor of Haaretz; Israel Democracy Institute
  • Ms. Tal Schneider, Political journalist and blogger

2:45 p.m.-4:15 p.m.


Moderator:Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vice President of Research, Israel Democracy Institute


  • Dr. Khaled Ghanayem, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa
  • Attorney Tal Lieblich, Expert in communications law; Legal Counselor for media organizations
  • Justice Amir Toby, District Court Judge, Haifa
  • Dr. Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler, Israel Democracy Institute; Hadassah College Jerusalem


  • MK Dr. Nachman Shai, The Israeli Knesset (Kadima)
  • MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich, The Israeli Knesset (Kadima