They are nervous; they are scared; their wretchedness is on full display.
On Sunday, Yedioth Ahronoth workers had to deal once again with the unpleasant policy of their don: Publisher Arnon (Noni) Mozes (who is also the paper's senior editor). He has made it clear that none of his workers are allowed to appear alongside their Israel Hayom counterparts; any such event must be boycotted.
The set of "Organizing Things," a program produced by Channel 2 and Channel 23, became a conflict zone on Sunday because of that policy. Danielle Roth, who is the news anchor at the Israel Hayom studio, is a regular on the show. As the show's sports commentator, she was asked to participate in a panel on women and sports. She was supposed to appear alongside Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Uri Cooper, who incidentally worked for Israel Hayom for a few months.
The mere fact that he was scheduled to sit next to Roth sent chills down his spine; he broke out in a cold sweat, telling the producers he had to cancel. He did not want to contravene the senior management's prohibition, he said. He called his superior, and was told that the man who sits high above, Mozes, will have to decide. Mozes -- how surprising -- ordered him not to appear alongside an Israel Hayom employee.
"We are prohibited from doing so," an embarrassed Cooper muttered. Back on the set, "Organizing Things" producers tried to come up with a solution. They asked Roth whether she would agree to have the title "Israel Hayom Anchorwoman" omitted from her caption. Roth refused. They asked Cooper to agree to water down his caption. He said his boss would not agree. Roth, who had had enough, stormed off the set. Cooper ran after her, apologizing profusely. "We could get fired over this kind of stuff," he told her.
Welcome to the Noni Mozes dictatorship.
This is not the first time Yedioth has tried to show who the country's hegemon is. Actually, its goal is to prove that it is the galactic emperor. Several months ago, just before Rosh Hashana, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz invited reporters for a defense briefing. Yedioth tried to pressure Gantz to keep Israel Hayom's reporters out of the meeting, but Gantz, to his credit, did not buckle. Yedioth ultimately boycotted the event.
Last week it made another such attempt at a conference in Haifa. Deputy Editor Aharon Lapidot's presence was cited as a pretext. Like with the briefing, they ended up boycotting the event. Nevertheless, the conference hall was packed. In fact, organizers said Mozes' efforts only generated more publicity.
Lo and behold, the galaxy has not been moving in whatever direction Mozes points at. And Yedioth has been unwilling to accept that travesty. How rude on the part of the galaxy!
They like to call Israel Hayom a freebie. When this paper was first launched, Yedioth Ahronoth responded by publishing its own free daily newspaper, "24 Minutes." It presented an intellectual challenge to readers: They had to grapple with headlines detailing how much silicon was injected into the breast of a particular supermodel; with whom she had spent the night; and with which not-so-famous actor she had coffee.
Unfortunately, the Israeli public was not impressed by Yedioth's efforts. The freebie died and became one of history's journalistic flops.
Coincidentally, Yedioth had an epiphany that very moment: A free paper is a threat to democracy. That is, unless it is run by Yedioth. Somehow, no matter where I do my weekend grocery run, I see Yedioth freebies handed out to passersby. Of course this is pure coincidence, right? Actually, it's not. In recent months, Yedioth's freebie can be found on college campuses, in train stations, in gas stations, in supermarkets, in fruit and vegetable stores. Other retailers also hand it out free of charge. You want a freebie? Here you go. Anyone else?
Actually, not all of what Yedioth is doing is bad. On Sunday, it compared Israel's treatment of asylum seekers to the immigration policies in other countries. The only problem was that the piece was plagiarized from Israel Hayom's weekend supplement. Almost word for word. Yedioth had no shame in running an almost identical headline, both on the front page and inside the paper.
So let's look on the bright side: Yedioth knows how to plagiarize from a successful paper -- without making any mistakes. Almost.