Thursday, November 01, 2012

If It Gets Too Hot, Cool Off

Yaakov Ahimeir on journalists-cum-politicians:-

Is there something particularly wrong with journalists crossing over to politics? Not at all. The openness of the big parties allows anyone to try their luck. The salary is good, there is guaranteed parking, and the ATM at the Knesset building works. Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich, for example, crossed over with record speed: One day she was interviewing then-Labor leader Amir Peretz in the studio, the next day she was publicly falling into his lap. Many critics said that Yachimovich's last interview as a journalist was not hard hitting, but convenient for the person she was interviewing. She met the same person a short time later at the Labor party headquarters.
...A cooling-off period is required. It is unfathomable that for days, if not weeks, a journalist is in contact with a political party behind the scenes while continuing to act as a decent, unbiased journalist, without any conflict of interest. Let us at least present some decency: We need a cooling-off period rather than an overly quick skip from the news desk to the podium.
The cooling-off period is important to the media consumers no less, perhaps even more, than it is to the journalist. The captains of the media outlets — editors, news department heads, boards of directors — need to declare unequivocally: Before journalists make their first moves into the political arena, they must notify their employers, and if they plan to run, they must resign at once. Is that how the journalists who recently became politicians behaved? Very doubtful.
...The cooling-off period would benefit, first and foremost, the readers, viewers and listeners who are always quick to criticize the media, even if they are right sometimes. The cooling-off period would serve to diminish, even if it is by a tiny margin, the suspicious attitude reserved for media representatives. We need a cooling-off period for our customers and for ourselves, and only then will we journalists be able to run for office with a clean conscience and without any conflict of interest.

That makes sense.


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