The Listening Post

Spinning the occupation: Israel and the media

We look at Israel’s crackdown on journalists over alleged media bias; plus, the media landscape in South Africa.

Israel is facing a global image problem – and once again, the state is blaming the media.

Over the past month, the Knesset has summoned foreign journalists to defend themselves against accusations of bias, particularly around their coverage of the protracted violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

For the domestic media, there has also been a tightening of controls since Ariel Ben Avraham was appointed the new chief military censor. Avraham recently issued a directive ordering news organisations, digital outlets, bloggers and even certain Facebook users to run stories about national security past military censors before publishing or posting.

All of this is happening while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubles up as the communications minister, showing how the Likud Party sees the control of the media narrative as critical to the wellbeing of its government.

Talking us through the story are: Lahav Harkov Levine, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post; Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, the editor-in-chief at +972 Magazine; Uri Blau, a journalist; and Luke Baker, the Reuters bureau chief and head of the Foreign Press Association.

Other media stories on our radar this week: Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the rules of journalism clear for the country’s state-owned news outlets; in Turkey, two prominent journalists accused of revealing ‘state secrets’ have been released after being held for three months; and a hot mic catches MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts cosying up to Donald Trump.

Mandela’s legacy: The media in post-apartheid South Africa

Almost 22 years after the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, transformation of the country’s media is still a work in progress.

In terms of numbers, the media sector has done relatively well compared with other influential sectors in redressing inequalities. However, questions of ownership and the way the country is reported on remain.

The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead went to South Africa to investigate the transformation issue in the country’s media.

Finally, President Xi Jinping’s state media tour was TV gold – but one of the most theatrical moments didn’t take place on camera; it came after the president visited the newsrooms of the Xinhua news agency. A deputy editor at Xinhua, Pu Liye, posted a poem in praise of the president on his WeChat account and Chinese web users had a field day with the poem long after it went viral. It was written in Mandarin, so we had it translated and read out, accompanied by a few pictures of the president on his media tour.