Wednesday October 1, 2014
Israel Hayom
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01.10.2014
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Eli Hazan

The media must set red lines

As an entire nation was mourning the loss of three murdered teens, the courts lifted the gag order on the emergency tape recording of the teens' call to the police. Even before the gag order was lifted, the tape had circulated wildly throughout social media networks. The recording's release embittered some -- and justifiably so.

It is simply too tragic to listen to a recording that shows our greatest fears about the three abducted teens were realized long ago. And to be fully honest, despite the curiosity factor -- this is nothing but "snuff" , and it forces us to make a moral decision. This snuff tape only adds more to the sorrow, as it seems sometimes there is no end to the competition between media outlets. Can the editors please tell us what journalistic value there is to hearing the voices of kidnappers singing and celebrating, as was broadcast on Wednesday?

It is clear that for those who decided to distribute the tape: There is no red line.

One could claim that the tape was broadcast in the spirit of free speech, which, while it is a supreme value, it is still not the only value to uphold.

So while it is important to respect the courts' decision, it should be made clear that in this case there was room for more consideration. Sometimes, when we have to weigh between two norms, it is better to take a more conservative approach, as the damage that could be done going the other route could far outweigh the benefit.

The tape broadcast is one such instance. Let's imagine a scenario in which media outlets broadcast audio recordings of a murder, or the rape of a minor. Clearly no one would tolerate that kind of broadcast. The case of the abducted teens is not that different.

The recording is not just disturbing, it is difficult to hear. Hearing the voices, its impossible not to let the mind run. Broadcasting that tape is not just a choice between two norms; it carries long term consequences for people living here.

Immediately after the report of the three bodies' discovery, one third-year medical student at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology wrote on his Facebook page in Arabic: "Record ... 3 goals for the national team despite its absence from the Palestinian World Cup!"

Broadcasting the tape motivates not just people like that student but many of those who despise Israel, as it gives them a real stimulation to feed their perversion. One could argue that in today's Internet age it is impossible to hide anything. That statement is only partially true as not everyone is connected to the web all the time and the tape itself was held by police investigators who could have guarded it and prevented its distribution.

The kidnapping and murder of the three teens raised many questions about how Israeli society operates, including the media. It should be decided once and for all: Not everything has to be published.

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