Israel’s Liberal Press on Ropes
The economic crisis that’s hit the newspaper industry in the United States and elsewhere is threatening some of Israel’s most influential publications and could soon leave the country with virtually no liberal-leaning printed newspapers.
Haaretz, Israel’s most prominent left-wing daily, didn’t publish a print edition Thursday for the first time in three decades as layoffs threatened much of the staff. Maariv, one of the country’s largest newspapers, has announced that it might switch soon to Web-only distribution with a weekend print version; the alternative, the paper has said, is closing.
Unlike in the United States, where most news outlets strive for objectivity, Israeli papers take political stands in their news pages.
Publishers say that competition with the Internet, as in the rest of the world, is one reason for their decline. But they say a far bigger influence has been the cost of competing with Israel Hayom, a free-distribution newspaper that American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson founded five years ago.
Adelson, whose personal fortune has been estimated at more than $20 billion, is a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud bloc. He’s poured millions into the paper, whose often-fawning articles about Netanyahu have earned it the sobriquet “Bibi Press,” a reference to the prime minister’s nickname.