Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
At a time when media pundits are calling daily newspapers “print dinosaurs,” Las Vegas casino mogul and Zionist philanthropist Sheldon Adelson tweaked the “experts” by investing millions of dollars in the creation of Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), a free Hebrew-language tabloid newspaper that was launched on July 30, 2007.
Written off by the dominant local newspapers – including Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz – as nothing more than a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Netanyahu, Adelson hired an all-star staff of respected editors, journalists and columnists, who created an alternative voice for the Israeli public.
By the end of 2008, Yisrael Hayom had not only succeeded in luring readers away from the aforementioned Israeli dailies, the paper announced a plan to increase circulation by offering free home delivery. A year later, Yisrael Hayom announced that circulation had surpassed 250,000 copies and a weekend edition would be launched to compete with the major dailies.
By early February 2010, more than 300,000 copies of the weekend edition of Yisrael Hayom were being printed and delivered across the country. With Yisrael Hayom’s circulation and advertising revenues climbing faster than anyone anticipated, at least two Israeli newspaper owners lobbied Knesset members to pass a law that would ban foreign ownership of any major Israeli media entity. The proposed law, aimed at undermining Adelson, stands almost no chance being passed.
Veteran Israeli journalist Boaz Bismuth, who has written for both Maariv and Yediot Aharonot in addition to serving as Israel’s ambassador to Mauritania (2004-2008), was recruited by Yisrael Hayom Senior Editor Amos Regev to serve as the paper’s foreign editor. In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press, Bismuth spoke of the keys to Yisrael Hayom’s unprecedented success.
The Jewish Press: What was the lure of joining Yisrael Hayom, which was considered anything but a sure thing in the highly volatile Israeli newspaper market?
Bismuth: First of all, I had a unique opportunity to return to my beloved profession. Uniquely, I saw that the paper was able to easily recruit respected journalistic soldiers such as Dan Margalit (Maariv, Channel 10). So I look at myself as a lucky editor who joined the paper on September 16, 2008. That was the day when people packed their bags at Lehman Brothers in the midst of the economic crash, while I became part of something new and different. We became a symbol of sorts for the newspaper industry, which was and still is having problems.
What was different about the Israeli newspaper marketplace that allowed Yisrael Hayom to put down firm roots?
From day one, the object was to create a free paper that was a fast read and interesting, though we did not want a paper that would be read and thrown away in five minutes. Immediately, we saw that readers appreciated the paper. When people in Tel Aviv, the key to the newspaper market in Israel because of the population that lives and works in the metro region, were changing their reading habits by taking the time to read the paper in a coffee shop, at home or at work, we knew that the paper was having an impact.
The editors of Haaretz, Maariv and Yediot openly criticized Sheldon Adelson for allegedly creating a paper with an agenda – namely, supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How do you respond to this criticism?
The criticism leveled against Yisrael Hayom is hypocritical and cynical. Every newspaper has an agenda. Does one really think Adelson created the paper as a philanthropic venture? No one in the local newspaper industry is a philanthropist. Do the editors of the other papers or readers truly believe Adelson has the time for influencing daily editorial policy at the paper? If he does, he’s Superman.
I can tell you from having worked at major Israeli newspapers in the past, Yisrael Hayom is an extremely professional operation. Every evening, the editors choose from a variety of articles and editorials to publish. This is the business of true professionals. You don’t think the paper publishes stories that are critical of the Netanyahu government? Of course it does. I’m proud to be a part of this enterprise.
So the claim that Yisrael Hayom is imposing its editorial will on readers is journalistic sour grapes?
We have a created a new economic model for newspapers that has spurred a revolution in the marketplace. It’s a model that functions well and people like the paper. If we are imposing our will on the public, then how come there is an additional waiting list of nearly 50,000 people who want daily home delivery? I’m revealing this as a scoop. Circulation is already over 250,000 copies during the week. Thanks to my opponents’ crying and their criticism, I can see how well I’m doing my job at the paper.
But that hasn’t stopped people associated with Yediot and Maariv from trying to get Knesset members to pass a law banning foreign ownership of newspapers, which was obviously aimed at Adelson.
When, where do we put the limit? It’s an outrageous, anti-democratic law. Ironically, it’s OK for Knesset members and other members of the Israeli business community to accept investments and donations from Jews in the Diaspora. It’s OK for Diaspora Jews to purchase shares in Bank Leumi, or a controlling interest in Israel Discount Bank. But to invest and participate in the market of public opinion in Israel it’s not OK?
Trust me, if Yisrael Hayom were a flop, none of this would have ever been discussed. The other papers feel threatened. Yediot was considered a monopoly for years. Maariv has been in financial trouble for a while. Ironically, when Adelson was originally in negotiations to buy Maariv, the owners made him out to be the Vilna Gaon. Now they make him out to be like some Saudi sheikh.
Is some of the opposition due to ideological differences?
Yisrael Hayom is not a “stylish” left-wing newspaper. The difference is that we promote the fact that we are proud to be Israeli. And, thank God, we have Zionists abroad who take an interest and want to invest in the Israeli economy.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
No tweets found.
Like Chamberlain, Obama sued the ayatollahs for peace, insisting the only alternative to appeasement is war.
I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.
This new mood among Christian Arabs has worried the communists and Arab nationalist.
After nearly five years in office it should be clear that President Obama has always been a man on a mission to change America and the world. To be sure, we couldn’t disagree more with his vision – and in this we think we speak for most Americans.
We find it noteworthy, if not surprising, that with all the well-documented systematic human rights abuses committed by governments around the world – including, but not limited to, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Zimbabwe – not one resolution condemning any of them is planned by the UN General Assembly.
For his latest book, City College’s William Helmreich walked 120,960 blocks – in other words, nearly every block of New York’s five boroughs.
Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.
“We will not allow boys and girls to live together in state-owed student residences… All kinds of messy things are happening.”
Debate: Should “West Bank” and other politically charged terms be used by a Jewish website such as the JewishPress.com
This was the mainstream of democracy and democratic opinion: The “vital center.”
Saudi media warned that the Iran regime will not be fettered by the accord.
Meditation is all the rage in cyberspace it seems and what’s more “it is keeping capitalism alive.”
Well, Subaru, you stood up to tyranny in the past, and this Chanukah you shine once again.
Since 2011 there have regularly been unprovoked attacks by black teens against non-black victims.
JERUSALEM – As the Iranians move closer to acquiring a nuclear bomb, an unprecedented meeting and a startling admission have buttressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertions that President Obama’s Iran policy is alienating America’s Mideast allies.
JERUSALEM – For the first time since Israel’s founding in 1948, a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family has publicly acknowledged that a country other than Israel is “the real danger” in the Middle East.
JERUSALEM – The public dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry extends beyond the issue of Iranian nuclear compliance. Sources report that Netanyahu and Kerry have had several heated arguments behind closed doors about the course of America’s Middle East foreign policy as it relates to Iran, the peace process with the Palestinians, Hizbullah, Syria, and Hamas.
I love being in Jerusalem. The first time I visited the Holy City and the Western Wall I was filled with overwhelming joy. God is everywhere, but I feel his presence especially strongly in Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM – Despite prolonged diplomatic efforts by much of the international community to convince Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, a prominent former member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), along with a respected think tank, have confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the U.S., EU and UN: Iran has essentially “passed the point of no return” and is only weeks away from assembling a nuclear weapon.
JERUSALEM – As of Tuesday afternoon, election experts in Israel were tabulating ballots cast by millions of citizens in major municipalities across the country. Orthodox and Anglo voters were expected to play influential roles in the Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh outcomes.
JERUSALEM – As the U.S., EU and UN restart negotiations with Iran to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Israel’s political and military policymakers heightened their rhetoric and increased their military preparedness this week. This strategy is meant to convince the world that Israel is prepared for any eventuality.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-newspaper-thats-proud-to-be-israeli-an-interview-with-yisrael-hayom-foreign-editor-boaz-bismuth/2010/03/03/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: