Thursday, January 24, 2013

“All the News That’s Fit to Print”

Lior Lehrs

The printed media throughout the world and in Israel is in a state of crisis these days as a result of developments taking place in the field of communications and on the Internet. At the same time, some argue that it would be premature to eulogize the printed media and that it is still popular and capable of accommodating itself to a changing reality.

According to data of the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2011, 78% of Jerusalemites (age 20 and above) reported that they had read newspapers, magazines, or journals during the previous year. This figure is lower than the national average (84%) or the figures for Tel Aviv (87%), Haifa (88%), and Rishon LeZion (88%). Among Jerusalemites who had read newspapers, 66% reported that they had read newspapers in Hebrew, 26% in Arabic, 4% in Russian and 4% in English. Interesting to point out that the figure of Russian readers in Jerusalem is lower than the national average (9%) but the figure of the English readers is higher than the national average (1%).

What types of articles do Jerusalemites tend to read? Sixty percent of Jerusalemites who had read newspapers responded that they tend to read articles about news, politics, and current affairs. This figure is lower than the national average (66%) or the figures for Tel Aviv (72%), Haifa (73%), and Rishon LeZion (68%). Among Jerusalem’s newspaper readers, 25% reported that they read articles about economics. This figure is also lower than the national average (30%) or the figures for Tel Aviv (44%), Haifa (37%), and Rishon LeZion (36%). In contrast, the percentage of Jerusalem’s newspaper readers who habitually read articles about the Torah, Judaism, and religion (23%) is higher than the national average (12%) or the figures for Tel Aviv (6%) and Haifa (5%). Moreover, among Jerusalem’s newspaper readers, 25% reported that they read articles about physical and mental health, 15% reported reading articles about sports, and only 4% said that habitually read the gossip columns.

Interestingly, according to data of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the percentage of Palestinians in the Jerusalem district (age 10 and above) who reported that they read newspapers (45%) is higher than the figure for the West Bank (39%) or the Gaza Strip (19%). PCBS data also indicates that the percentage of newspaper readers among Palestinian women in the Jerusalem District (47%) is higher than the percentage among Palestinian men in this district (43%). 

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