Tel-Aviv University The Haim Herzog Institute for Media, Politics and Society

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  1. Repeal clauses in the law that prohibit broadcasts that constitute election propaganda. Judgment as to what comprises propaganda should devolve on the media and journalists, on the basis of trust in the professional journalistic considerations of correspondents and broadcasters.

  2. All newspapers and broadcast channels, either individually or in common, are to formulate and publish an election coverage code before commencement of a campaign.

  3. The Press Council is to take part in formulating and disseminating ethical rules for journalists. The Council is to set forth guidelines for interviewers and correspondents aimed at inhibiting misuse of media appearances for propaganda ends. Such guidelines would of course be recommendations, rather than binding rules. Individual media organs could add their own internal guidelines.

  4. Each media organ – newspaper and broadcast channel – would publicly announce its commitment, with or without reservations, to the above guidelines.

  5. In the event of an infringement of the rules, a complaint would be lodged with the Disciplinary Court of the Press Council and/or the public ombudsman of the Media Organization.

Rules for publicizing election survey polls

Public opinion polls are an important and useful research tool in academic work, in applied marketing research, and in politics. Nevertheless, the increased employment of election surveys raises many questions about their negative impact on the public discourse, on politicians, and on democratic processes. In the last election campaign, the media used predictive surveys to the point of obsession. On the other hand, the Israeli public opinion survey “industry” does not have a code of ethics; no agreement exists concerning professional standards for conducting or publishing the results of public opinion surveys. During election campaigns, interested parties distort, mislead and manipulate. Numerous studies point clearly to a wide variance between survey predictions and election results, as well as to numerous methodological flaws.

Many countries have instituted limits on the publication of pre-election surveys, including an absolute prohibition on publication in the weeks immediately preceding an election. In November 2002, the Knesset adopted Amendment 22 to the Elections Law (Mode of Propaganda), with clear-cut requirements that publication of survey results include the following identifying details:

  1. The name of the body that commissioned the survey.

  2. The name of the party that conducted the survey.

  3. The date or period in which the survey was conducted.

  4. The population from which the sampling of respondents was selected.

  5. The number of people asked to participate in the survey and the number of those who actually participated.

  6. The margin of error for the results obtained.

Nevertheless, most of the news media and survey organizations disregarded these requirements, publishing survey results for the 2003 campaign without the required details, in gross violation of the publication requirements.

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