Ha’aretz owns up

From the Elder of Ziyon:

What is the mission of a newspaper?

One might think that it is to help people stay informed, or to report the day’s events objectively.

The New York Times describes its goal as “to cover the news as impartially as possible …and to treat readers, news sources, advertisers and others fairly and openly, and to be seen to be doing so.”

Various journalism outlets and professional societies describe their codes of ethics to include truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability.

How about Haaretz? What is its mission?

Here, in a remarkable article where Haaretz is begging for money, we find out:

Two years ago our website, Haaretz.com, introduced its subscription-based readership and many thousands of subscribers signed up. They enjoy full access to all Haaretz content. I want to urge you today to join them and purchase a subscription to Haaretz, Israel’s leading source for news and opinion.

By doing so, you will become a partner in the ongoing effort to shape Israel as a liberal and constitutional democracy that cherishes the values of pluralism and civil and human rights. You will become a partner in actively supporting the two-state solution and the right to Palestinian self-determination, which will enable Israel to rid itself of the burdens of territorial occupation and the control of another people.

Haaretz, which as far as I can tell has no written code of ethics, has here provided a mission statement that has nothing to do with journalism and everything to do with advocacy.

Don’t underestimate how important this is. Haaretz is not about journalism. It is not about reporting. It is about advocacy – in this case, advocacy for a position that is gloriously understated as to its goals.

Whether one supports Haaretz’ editorial stance or not, this explicit description of Haaretz as being primarily a political actor should cause anyone to be against supporting it.

I disagree with the Elder on the last point. People should be free to support Haaretz. But Haaretz should not be free to pretend it is a proper news paper, a proper source of news. No wonder I kept thinking Haaretz was the opposition – it is!

Let Haaretz register as an NGO or an Israeli political party, and let it ask for money to support its views. But don’t call it a newspaper.

Agreed.

Judging from this article, Haaretz doesn’t even define itself that way. It is a newsletter for a political organization, one that is begging for more members.

Why is it begging for more members? It goes beyond the question of economics. I suspect it is begging for more members because its position, its reporting, and its message are directly opposed to those opinions of the majority of Israelis. If Haaretz stood for election, I doubt it would beat the threshold to get a single seat.