Sunday, June 1, 2008
The Personnel Changes at Haaretz (Provisionally) Explained
Last week I reported a troubling rumor that Meron Rapoport, a fine investigative reporter for Haaretz, had been fired. I also heard that Amira Hass was not returning to Haaretz, and this suggested to me that a new political wind was blowing at the only Israeli paper worth reading. As always, things are more complicated. Sources close to some Haaretz journalists now report that there has been a definite shift of late, but more financial than political. The focus of the newspaper is now less on politics and more on business and finance. Several months ago Haaretz reduced the size of two separate sections, News and Opinion, and combined them into one. It expanded its business coverage, especially its financial coverage in its supplement, The Marker. Its Tel-Aviv readership, especially in the business community, is not necessarily interested in human rights issues in Gaza. So while there will be still some reporting of that, not as much. Personnel changes: Meron Rapoport, whose investigative reporting is no longer needed, apparently, is out. Tamar Rotem may also be out. Amira Hass is on a year's leave of absence. She intends to return, but nothing is certain. Gideon Levy continues to write the Twilight Zone column, but it has been moved from the prominent Musaf (Magazine) section to Friday's This Week section. Levy is also doing television reviews (!) and writing on other issues. Akiva Eldar continues to work for Haaretz, but less space is alloted to him. Is this political censorship? Not really. Will the paper become more rightwing? As far as I know, there are no signs of that. But it will become less leftwing because of the shift of focus. My source (and her Haaretz sources) claim that the change of orientation is that of the publisher's, Amos Schocken. He obviously is not in the business of publishing a human rights report but a profitable newspaper. Shocken has repeatedly shown that, as publishers go, his heart is in the right place. Part of this has to do with the slide of Israeli society into vast popular culture. I came back from the Hebrew Book week noting the proportionately smaller output of challenging books. All this is a pity. Meron Rapoport, in particular, will be sorely missed.