AP reported the sentimental passing of baseball star Yogi Berra at the age of 90 with the headline that cartoon character Yogi Bear had died. How could that mistake have been made? Easy. A young intern, working in the wee hours of the morning, who did not know the difference between Yogi Berra and Yogi Bear, made the mistake.
Just to test it out, I asked my 18-year-old intelligent student interns if they knew of either Yogi Berra or Yogi Bear. They also did not know. They could have made the same mistake had they maintained the AP desk a few nights before. All this proves the point of our mentor, Dr. Joseph Lerner, who advised our office from the time of his Aliya in 1986 at the age of 66 until his death in 2006.
Joe’s point on how to work with the media was not to harp on the mistakes and mishaps of reporters, but rather to do everything possible to educate the media, with all the patience that this requires. Anti-Israel pundits thrive on the lack of knowledge that reporters and their media outlets have about Israel. The strategy of Israel critics is to create their own narrative, and to reinvent Israel’s history, and to market their vast cottage industry of misinformation to the press, in a reasonable manner.
Anyone who sees the issue in Middle East reporting as a problem of deliberate, dishonest and biased reporting misses the reality, which is that we live in an era of superficiality and surface reporting that has gotten even more superficial since Joe Lerner’s death in 2006, where we have witnessed the media outlets in Israel cut to skeleton staffs, while organizations with an axe to grind work overtime to misinform the crucial copywriters of media outlets who cannot tell Yogi Bear from Yogi Berra.
I once showed my students who learn investigative reporting in my office how easy it was to quote a journalist Fred Flintstone from the Bedrock News and his senior writer, Barney Rubble, as a credible source in a news story.
Yaba Daba Do.
BTW, Moadim l’simcha,