J-Wire Meets HonestReporting
J-Wire has spoken with Joe Hyams, the joint Manging Director of Israeli-based international media watchdog HonestReporting during his visit to Sydney …
JW: You are from London. Did HonestReporting have its roots in the UK…and how many subscribers do you have around the world?
JH: There were Britons involved but it was an Israeli intiative. There are over 180,000 subscribers, mostly in the English-speaking world.
JW: When was HonestReporting founded and was there a specific incident incident which was the driving force behind its creation?
JH: It was founded in 2000. The incident which sparked its formation was the one involving Tuvia Grossman. Major media sources including Assosicated Press and the New York Times published a photo claiming to show a badly-beaten young Palestinian boy crouching by an Israel soldier implying the boy had been attacked brutally by the soldier. The boy’s father identified him not as a Palestinian but as Tuvia Grossman from Chicago who was being protected by the soldier after being beaten by Palestinians. There was a mob off camera and that situation could not have been more misrepresented. Last year was HR’s tenth anniversary and we arranged a meeting for the first time between Tuvia Grossman and the Israeli soldier who saved him from the mob. It celebrated our coming of age and a happy ending to what could have been a tragic story.
JW: Israel is not treated kindly by two Australian journalists, Paul McGeough and John Pilger. How does Honest Reporting deal with their work?
JH: They stick out like sore thumbs. On the whole you have pretty good media here in Australia. Some journalists believe because they have a camera they are journalists. But they are not. Some are simply activists.
JW: How do you rate the Australian Press?
JH: I have not met many. Australian media reports do not find their way to my desk very often…so that must be a good thing. It has been a pleasure to be able to browse a newspaper here over breakfast without my blood pressure rising too much. Nonetheless, they know they are being watched. Any media outlets which feels it is not being watched starts to take a free hand. It’s important to be on alert. There is always the potential for things to turn sour.
JW: How many of your subscribers contribute items for your consideration?
JH: About 5-10% flag issues to us. They are like the drivers who phone in to radio stations about road accidents…and we depend on them.
JW: How does Honest Reporting view the Israeli and Jewish Press?
JH: I could spend 27 hours a day watching the Israeli Press. Their market is niche. But they do not influence Foreign Policy on Israel. If anti-Israel policy gets its way in foreign media it influences voters and that in turn could alter the quality of life for me and my family in Israel.
During his stay in Sydney, Hyams, a 34-yr-old former advertising executive with Saatchi and Saatchi, met with members of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputiesa and AIJAC. He spoke with students from the Australian Union of Jewish Students and to Year 12 at Moriah College.