Sabbath-observing Israelis are keeping Israeli newspapers alive, a study by several researchers at Ariel University said. The study, by Dr. Rafi Mann and Dr. Azi Lev-On, said that as Israelis have become more observant in recent years, fewer of them are watching television or listening to the radio on Shabbat – with an attendant increase in the circulation of the weekend editions of newspapers.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 21% of Israeli Jews say they are more observant now than they were in the past, compared to 14% who said they were less observant. The “observants” are making important gains, the study found, with important implications on the media, said the study, which examined various aspects of the media. One third of Israeli Jews do not turn on televisions or radios on Shabbat, a phenomenon among not only Religious Zionist and hareidi Jews, but also among Jews who call themselves “traditional.” Among that group, 35% said they did not watch TV or listen to the radio – while 48% said they did not use the Internet, either.
For these Israelis, reading the news online, or with a tablet – the predominant trend in journalism throughout much of the world – does not apply. The religious strictures on using electronic means to read the news, along with the demographic increase among the religious population, have led to a stabilization in the numbers of printed newspapers sold on the weekend, while sales during the week have plummeted.
According to the two, there is a direct correlation between the needs of Israelis who do not read electronically-delivered news on Shabbat, and the increase in newspaper sales on the weekend.
However, they said, newspapers needed to realize who their customers were and fashion their content – especially features – to satisfy them. Otherwise, they will not benefit from this wave of newspaper buyers.