Listening Post

Israel: Where media marries politics

Why are Israeli journalists increasingly moving into politics?

Last updated: 16 Nov 2013 15:47
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Nine months ago the new Israeli parliament was sworn in and there were a lot of familiar faces. Not from the world of politics, but from the media. Roughly one out of ten members of the Knesset are former journalists.

I think the media is viewed suspiciously by the public .... There is distrust and basically I think it’s a positive thing.

Ofer Shelah, a Knesset member, Yesh Atid Party and former journalist 

The leader of the country's second most popular party is Yair Lapid and  the leader of the Labour Party is Shelly Yachimovich. Both came out of the studios of Channel 2.

Lapid has made the move to politics look easy. Back in 2005, he interviewed another journalist turned-politician asking whether it was worth throwing away a successful career in media, "for this disgusting mess that is politics?"

Then he did exactly the same thing. Lapid gave up his anchor chair, formed his own party, and ran for prime minister.

Now he is Prime Minister Netanyahu's chief coalition partner, the finance minister, but what does crossing the line mean for a journalist's relationship with former colleagues?

The line between politics and journalism is becoming increasingly blurred, and as more and more people cross it, the fourth estate in Israel is facing questions on its role as a check on power. 

So what is it about Israeli society today, that more and more journalists are cashing in on their high profiles, and trading journalism for politics?

Listening Post's Flo Phillips explores what this trend means for politics in Israel and the media's role in the country.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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