Thu Oct 4, 2012 6:57am EDT–Workers at Haaretz, a leading liberal Israeli newspaper, held a one-day strike to protest plans for layoffs and for the first time in nearly 30 years the daily was not distributed on Thursday.
Haaretz’s financial woes follow last month’s agreement by conglomerate IDB to sell heavily indebted tabloid Maariv to the publisher of the right-wing newspaper Makor Rishon. The sale would lead to the sacking of a large part of Maariv’s 2,000 workers and underscores the plight of the printed media in a news-obsessed Israel.
While Israeli newspapers – like the print industry worldwide – are struggling to compete in an increasingly digitalized world, their situation has been aggravated by the entry of the free Israel Hayom newspaper.
Israel Hayom is funded by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a high-profile Republican donor and close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“People tend to invest in media not just to get a proper return on investment,” said one industry analyst in Tel Aviv who asked not to be identified. “So the fact that you have a paper like Israel Hayom, which is probably not just for making profits but (is backed by) someone with deep pockets who has an agenda, makes it difficult for the others to survive.”
The problems of Israeli newspapers are compounded by the failure of advertising revenue in Israel to keep up with the growth in the economy and population. Advertising revenue is not enough to support three television broadcasters, four mainstream newspapers and three business dailies, analysts say.
Other than loss-making Maariv, Israeli newspapers are privately held so their precise financial situation is difficult to gauge.
At Haaretz, management is seeking to lay off at least 100 journalists out of 400 workers, said workers’ committee member Uri Tuval.
“Haaretz did not reach subscribers and the streets this morning and this is a sad day for us all,” he told Army Radio. “Clearly there have to be cuts but we think the Haaretz (management) needs to see how to increase income and not only to cut workers.”…Read More>>