The news media plays a pivotal role in shaping public perceptions of Israel, and it goes without saying that effective advocacy on behalf of Israel includes an assessment of the daily stream of news coverage from the region. Become an active participant:
- Read your local newspaper every day
- Know the facts and history
- Pay attention to news coverage of the Middle East, and Israel in particular
- Get involved: Respond to coverage that is unfairly critical of Israel
Assessing Media Coverage
News stories are different from columns, editorials, and op-eds, which generally express an opinion or offer a certain viewpoint. Understanding this difference is essential. If you suspect a news story misrepresents facts or contains an error, it is important to review the item carefully and check your facts before drafting a letter to the editor in response.
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Most publications give priority to letters
of local interest and about local issues.
The letter should be signed and should include the author’s street address and phone number.
Letters to the Editor & Online Comments
Letters to the editor and online comment sections offer effective vehicles for responding to news articles, op-eds and editorials in newspapers, magazines and news Web sites. A few things to bear in mind:
● Letters must be timely. Allowing a week, or even a few days to pass before responding to an article will greatly diminish the likelihood of your letter seeing print.
● Write in response to a particular news item, editorial or op-ed. Newspapers and magazines are not interested in letters that do not address a story or issue discussed in their pages. In your letter, make specific reference to the story’s headline and the date it appeared.
● Be brief and address a specific issue. Many newspapers only accept letters for publication of 250 words or less. Be succinct, brief and as “to the point” as possible. Review the publication’s instructions for submitting a letter to the editor.
● Be civil. Do not personally attack the writer. If responding to an opinion column or op-ed, you may refer in your letter to the writer by name, indicate that you disagree with his or her point of view, and explain why.
● Include your name, address and a daytime telephone number. With the exception of online comment boards, most newspapers will not accept anonymous letters; most will not publish a letter without first attempting to check the identity of the author.
● When using e-mail, direct the letter to the appropriate address for letters. Do not use multiple addresses, or copy others.
● Do not sign on to mass letters or organized campaigns: Newspapers do not appreciate mass letter-writing campaigns that flood their in-boxes with nearly identical messages. Make your response unique
Another battleground for perceptions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the blogosphere, which in recent years has grown tremendously as bloggers of every political persuasion have taken to commenting on developments in the Middle East.
It is generally counterproductive to respond directly to anti-Israel bloggers or Web sites. If the blogger is someone who is well-known or respected, such as a political figure, pundit, celebrity or journalist, you should consider posting your own response on the blog itself.
Social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer an unprecedented opportunity for direct engagement with others on the issues of the day. You should by all means share articles with your friends, family and acquaintances that reflect positively on Israel. There are also an array of pro-Israel groups who are an active presence on social-networking sites.
Keep in mind that social-networking sites also offer fertile ground for abuses and spreading of misinformation, and there are as many anti-Israel pages and profiles in cyberspace as there are pro-Israeli pages.
We urge supporters of Israel to always check the accuracy of any internet message before sending it to others.
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