Meirav Crystal
April 7, 2008 - 5:55pm,7340,L-3528303,00.html

The Israeli public is more than ready for an Arab newscaster, a survey held by Agenda, the Israeli Center for Strategic Communications, revealed Sunday. 

The poll, performed by Agenda and the Teleseker polling company, included 400 native Israelis, 200 Israelis who emigrated from the former Soviet Union and 200 Arab Israelis, making up 800 participants.

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The groups were segmented in order to get a clear view of the public perception of the Israeli media, as well as to examine the way it covers issues relating to each of the sectors. 

Fifty-two percent of the Israeli public, revealed the data, is more than willing to accept Arab news personalities: Some 70% of those taking part in the poll said they believed Israeli broadcast should include at least an Arab weatherperson and close to 80% said they would like to see more Arabs being interviewed by the Israeli media.

The survey stands to be presented in the second annual Haifa University Conference for Social Responsibility, which will hold a panel discussing the correlation between media and social responsibility. 

Polling data also revealed that 36% of the Arab sector reads Hebrew newspapers, as opposed to only 20% of Russian immigrant that do so. The latter group, however, listens to Israeli radio more that the former – 34% versus 15% respectively.

Increasing the visibility of Israeli Arabs in the media, said the Agenda data, will clearly better their standing in Israeli society, as it will reinforce their sense of belonging.

Sixty-one percent of the Arab polled said they would watch more Israeli television if it gave Arab citizens a better platform; and 50% of those who do not read Israeli newspapers, said they would do so if Israeli print media would give Arab personas more of a voice. 

As if to echo their feeling, Channel 10’s Lucy Aharish, the channel's first Arab news anchor, resigned her post recently over professional differences. Aharish is now the front runner to be an anchor on one of Channel 2's morning shows.

As for the public's perception of the media, all those taking part in it – Jews, Arabs and Russians alike, gave the media as a whole a score ranging of D- – a barley passing grade; but still agreed that it had a significant influence on their lives.



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