Zurich 9 July, 2010. Barack Obama´s meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington took place at a time when both the US president and Israel are suffering from poor media images. Media Tenor´s long term study of international news shows that the television news flow out of Israel is extremely critical. The exception to this rule is the US TV market, although even in the US Israeli news is still negative in 40% of all stories. The study into a longer term media image of Israel indicates that the Gaza fleet incident merely exacerbated an already very negative media image. For Obama, the visit of Netanyahu was a crucial chance to reverse the media hostility he has faced in the wake of the BP oil spill – if he can be perceived to have achieved something.
A study by Zurich based media research institute, Media Tenor International, shows that Israel´s most favorable media market is the US even though 40% of all reports in US TV news present Israeli protagonists in a negative light. The picture outside the US media market is worse. European, Middle Eastern and South African media markets average close to 60% negativity for news out of Israel. China´s CCTV is an interesting case, in that it also has a high level of negativity, but a focus on social protagonists meant that 20% or reports on Israeli protagonists were positive for the Chinese.
Media Tenor CEO and founder Roland Schatz highlights the significance of the weak media reputation and the significance of its role on public opinion. “Media image and reputation go hand in hand – Obama and other stakeholders in a Mid-East peace process will be aware that Israel has limited popular support internationally” says Schatz, “They will have to tread the fine line between short term success at alleviating international frustration, and securing real results.”
A key result in Media Tenor´s study is that the Gaza fleet incident did not significantly change Israel´s media image. Israel has suffered from an extremely negative media reputation in African, European and, to a lesser extent, US media since the late 90´s. As such, the incident only saw the level of negativity jump a little. As Schatz points out, “In many ways the world has come to expect negative news out of Israel. Important elements of Israeli society – excellence in the IT field, excellence in farming and medicine - simply do not reach Joe Average through the media. The result is that an event like the Gaza fleet incident simply satisfies expectations. Unfortunately, the expectation of bad news is one thing that Israel and its neighboring Arab states have in common.”
For President Obama, the expectations are also high as the Israeli leader lands in Washington. Obama´s international media rating has declined in the wake of the BP oil spill, and progress in the middle east will be essential to returning the President to the “Yes we can” image which served him so well during the 2008 election and the post health care phase. “Obama needs political victories in this phase of his presidency and the moving the peace process forward would be a sign that he truly is able to get things done” says Schatz.
This analysis is based on, 140,173 stories in 40 news shows from 11 markets. Media Tenor has evaluated more than 500 000 news stories in international TV news.
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