On January 1st, a Jerusalem mother murdered her four daughters and then hanged herself. The press restricted itself from publishing the murderer's or victim's names, and the victims' pictures were published blurred.
Three days later, an Acre mother murdered her five-year-old son and committed suicide. The media did not publish names or photographs.
At a hearing of the Knesset Children's Rights Committee, Yochi Siman Tov, director of psychological services at the Ministry of Education, explained that "there are a number of rules that are important to note in media coverage of homicides and suicide cases. One must not express empathy for the perpetrator, one may not reveal the methods by which it was done, and one must not publish it prominently in a newspaper. Irresponsible coverage in this matter and in suicides reach at-risk populations and affects them."
Siman Tov's words "prompted a wave of nods and agreements. It was clear that responsibility for the high incidence is also in our hands - the press," wrote Sarit Avitan-Cohen on NRG. "We must keep in mind the tremendous responsibility on our shoulders, and perform responsible and not over-provocative reporting. We shouldn't kill all our values in return for another headline or exposure".
Siman Tov and Avitan-Cohen are right. But their remarks are hypocritical, because they come only in response to cases of murder by mothers. When the killer is a man, the press eagerly takes on the case and publishes all, immediately, in a way that causes demonization of the entire male gender and is used to justify draconian laws and selective enforcement. Not so when it is a mother committing the indescribable deed.
And so it was:
We wrote in response to Avitan-Cohen: "Do not talk to us about journalistic responsibility when you know very well that in the next murder case by a man, pictures of the killer and of the children will cover the front pages, and they will be the opening item of Yael Dan and Yonit Levy (news broadcasters, ed.) for at least a week."
And so it was. Another horrifying murder of children, this time by a man. Less than two or three hours after finding the bodies began the festival of highlighted front page coverage including names, pictures, blood, everything.
From a journalistic standpoint, there is no real difference between the cases, except the sex of the killer. For those who argue that the difference is that the killer did not commit suicide, I'll mention that Eli Gur committed suicide, and Michael Fisher committed suicide, yet their names and photographs were released, as well as those of the victims.
For those who say that where children were murdered by their mother, the family's request was not to cover, I say, nonsense. The press did not ask anybody what to cover and what not to cover. The only thing that can prevent journalists from covering a story full of rating potential is a gag order, and no such order existed in both the above cases.
The conclusion is simple and does not require many words: For the moment, the press in this country is not doing its job properly, but rather serves as the propaganda machine of the women's organizations.
Murder is murder, and you can decide to be "responsible" when the murderer is a woman, and to hold an unchecked rampage when the killer is a man. Something sinister is behind this.