Below is the response received after I filed a complaint (see here) with the CBC Ombudsman over CBC reporter Sasa Petricic’s comments about Israeli media coverage of PM Stephen Harper’s trip:
Dear Mr. Skoreyko:
Thank you for your Jan. 22nd email to the CBC Ombudsman expressing concern about a Sasa Petricic analysis piece which appeared on CBCNews.ca. As our online coverage is my responsibility, I’d like to respond.
You wrote that Mr. Petricic’s Jan. 22nd article “completely contradicts other reporters'” accounts of coverage (you sent links to reports from the Canadian Press and Sun News, copied below). You ask for an explanation of “how Sasa Petricic came to his conclusions when even a rudimentary Google search of Israeli newspapers proves his assertions to be categorically false.”
Mr. Petricic lives and works in Israel — unlike the reporters from most other news organizations reporting on Mr. Harper’s trip, including the two reporters you cited. He was able to monitor coverage across all media, paying particular attention to those papers which have the most influence among Israelis.
By that measure, he found the coverage was indeed limited. There was considerably less attention paid to Mr. Harper’s trip than there was when other foreign dignitaries had visited Israel, leaders such as Obama, Hollande and Putin.
As a sample: on Jan. 20th, he found no mention of the Prime Minister’s trip in Yediot Ahronot, the most popular paper in Israel. The visit rated a mention on page 10 in Israel HaYom. Ma’ariv had nothing on the front page, and Mr. Petricic says he didn’t see anything at all in the one edition he looked at.
On Jan. 21, Yediot Ahronot covered his speech to the Knesset on page 12. Israel Hayom had a small caption on the bottom of the front page, with the article itself a brief one on page 7. Ma’ariv covered the speech on page 6.
On Jan. 22: each of the 3 newspapers carried nothing on the front page, and ran either a short article or photograph inside the paper.
Now let’s look at how Mr. Petricic described this media coverage: “But beyond Official Israel, Harper’s impact here has been minimal; his visit barely creeping onto the front page of any Israeli newspaper, especially the big Hebrew-language ones, or on radio or TV.”
That strikes me as fair and reasonable comment.
The other news reporters you cited quote extensively from the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s biggest English language daily. Though it might well have been beneficial for Mr. Petricic to quote more from that publication in his article, it’s important to note that paper’s circulation is about 1/10th of the three papers noted above. And its impact on ordinarily Israelis is nowhere near as large as those other media outlets.
It’s also worth noting that Mr. Petricic was careful, in his first (and most prominent) quote to cite Ma’arivs description of the Prime Minister’s speech as “one of the friendliest speeches of support ever heard from the leader of a foreign country in the Knesset.” But his overall conclusions about Israeli media coverage appear warranted.
Thank you again for your e-mail. I hope this response has reassured you of the integrity of our news service.