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By: Dave Gordon
The examples are legion.
The national media’s reporting on Israel has been rife with carelessness and agenda-driven tilt, especially just after a terrorist attack or an IDF incursion has occurred. Israel is often held to a different standard, with its reactionary measures exacerbated by errors of omission or commission on the part of reporters. It’s hard to say whether these issues stem more from ignorance, biases, naïveté, hatred, ill-will or lack of information. Whichever the case, it appears petitioning and making community outrage known only goes so far. The problems in reporting recur regardless, with frightening frequency. That’s part of the reason Tazpit Press Service, was created. An Israeli-based organization, it seeks to impart the facts to the media, to fill the gap when reportage misses the mark.
Tazpit Press Service (TPS) touts itself as the only Israeli syndicated news agency covering news in Israel. As the leading information provider in Israel, Tazpit provides nearly 200 mainstream media outlets with information to balance their coverage. With nearly 250 photographers and a similar number of reporters, they dispatch their staff around the clock so that there’s ongoing coverage of events in Israel. Thanks to Tzapit, both subscribers and the general public have quick access to reliable and high-quality materials.
“TPS is a change in perception,” says its CEO Eyal Amotz. “Tazpit aims to uncover the truth and teach the next generation of the media. [They’re] changing the global media game.”
Eyal Amotz spoke last March at the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC and has also visited New York, all to raise awareness for Tazpit.Community Magazineinterviewed the Mr. Amotz just after his recent trip to North America.
CM: Why and when was Tazpit started? What was the inspiration for its creation?
Amotz:Tazpit started in 2010, after I realized the power of the camera in the field. I saw events where the photographers edited the reality, and thus made impact on the coverage, and basically twisted reality. At first I lent five old cameras I received as a contribution for use. Slowly material begin to accumulate and I started to learn how the media works.
I discovered the great effect of the news agencies on coverage. In fact, the great majority of the world’s information is based on three international news agencies: Reuters, AP and AFP. After learning the facts, I concluded that what was missing was an Israeli news agency to provide articles, photos and videos straight from the field to the various media outlets.
That is how we started to build the agency, and now we are a significant factor in the arena. The highlights of the agency are reliability, speed
CM: Tell me how you brought together the team necessary to report and photograph stories. Was it difficult to do? How did you find them?
Amotz:After some reporting success in the field, we received publicity in the Israeli media. Immediately, hundreds of inquiries flooded in from volunteers who wanted to take part in the activity. They knew and understood the importance of reporting. These were volunteers who had training in photography and journalistic ethics. Todaywe have significantly grown.
CM: Tell me about the team. How many people are there in all, what kinds of backgrounds do they have and where do they operate from?
Amotz:The photographers are highly diverse. Some are event photographers who we have converted to photo journalists, others are citizens who live near places where news events take place, and a few are professional journalist photographers who contribute their experience. There are photographers as young as 18 years of age, and there are female photographers who are as old as sixty. There are residents of Judea and Samaria, and there are residents of Druze and Bedouin. The diversity allows us access to and understanding of a very interesting Israeli reality.
CM: What has been the biggest challenge?
Amotz: The biggest challenge is the marketing challenge. Since our work is spread out with media all around the world, there is a need to reach every editor, and convince them of the quality of our material.
CM: Cite some examples of biased Palestinian reporting you’ve found – whether it was simple, sloppy, or egregious.
Amotz:The problem is not only in the Palestinian reporting, but in the reporting of all the international agencies. And in general, people are not aware that about 85% of the international news they read originates from three news agencies that provide the information to various media outlets.
Here’s one example, though: A report by the news agency AP, titled “Israeli Policeman Shoots Man in East Jerusalem,” concealed a story of an attack in which a Palestinian driver ran over and killed a woman and a baby. Also, often, children are used as propaganda, as in the case we documented in the village of Nabi Saleh. Our photographer documented a mother sending her children to create a provocation against the soldiers. Their aim was to capture an image in which the soldier responded in an inflammatory way. They succeeded and this exposure affected the coverage of the case across the world.
Recently, we also revealed the false report of the Palestinian ministry of Health, which claimed that Israeli soldiers stop ambulances. The biased image, which was not accurately presented, was a picture of a military ambulance that gave care to a Palestinian. Our photographer, who documented the original event, helped us to catch the lie. Together with the original image, we were able to reveal the cropped image and publish the lie.
CM: Was there ever a time when the mainstream media had to correct something because of Tazpit’s reporting?
Amotz:Yes, at times the media changes their story based on our publication. The example I mentioned above revolving around children from Nabi Saleh has completely changed the British Daily Mail report. This happens often in both the Israeli media and the international media.
Usually, though, Tazpit does not work in response to what has already been published. Instead, we focus on reporting first, so that the report we put out will already be precise.
Media outlets that worked with us after the attack in Serona were the first to report correctly on the event, while others published a variety of incorrect reports, such as “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Fired in Tel-Aviv” and so on…
CM: How many stories each day do you report on or distribute?
Amotz:Currently, we distribute approximately eight articles in English every day, as well as continuous news in Hebrew. Unfortunately, because of the lack of manpower, we work only 14 hours a day. Our goal is to increase the staff to shifts of 24 hours a day.
CM: What do you hope Tazpit will be a year or two from now?
Amotz:Our main goal for the coming year is to fill the manpower gap, and open representative offices in Asia and South Africa. Currently, we have representatives in Brazil, who translate our material to Portuguese, and distribute it to 27 media outlet subscribers throughout the country. This year, we want to replicate this model and apply it to another two continents.
The hope is that within a few years we will no longer have to rely on donations, as our revenue will come from subscriptions. In order to achieve this goal, we need two years of full activity, which will allow us in to reach most of the main media outlets, and become a significant source for them – a source providing the fastest and highest quality news from Israel.
To find out more about Tazpit Press Service visit tpsnews.co.il.