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IDF forms committee to determine an Israeli 'military correspondent'

Reporters recognized as military correspondents and members of the MCA have clearance to receive briefings from senior officers, as well as information related to breaking news and ongoing incidents before foreign press.
By JERUSALEM POST
IDF’s Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis formed an advisory committee on Thursday to determine working procedures between the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and correspondents covering military affairs.

The committee’s responsibilities will include responding to a claim filed to the Supreme Court regarding the significance of membership in the Military Correspondents Association. The committee will also strengthen transparency and fairness in the relationship between the IDF Spokesman and reporters covering military issues.

The committee, to be headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia, will include Maj.-Gen.(res.) Yossi Baidatz, former defense ministry spokesman Ofer Harel, Dr. Tehila Schwartz Altshuler and veteran journalist Dan Margalit, who worked for The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Maariv, as well as for Israel Hayom and Haaretz, and Channels 1 and 10.

The committee was formed after The Times of Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice in order to get its military correspondent, Judah Ari Gross, recognized by the IDF and the Military Correspondent’s Association as a military correspondent.

Reporters recognized as military correspondents and members of the MCA have clearance to receive briefings from senior officers, as well as information related to breaking news and ongoing incidents before foreign press.

Following the petition by The Times of Israel and Gross, several attempts were made by the MCA to clarify criteria for a journalist to be accepted into the association and be recognized by the IDF as an Israeli military correspondent.

While the IDF at first responded that it is not responsible for the makeup of the Military Correspondent’s Association, the inability of the association’s members to come to an agreement forced the military to form the committee.

The association had suggested that members work for a Hebrew-language media outlet. This would have disqualified The Jerusalem Post – which has been a MCA member for many years, as well as Arabic-language media.

Outlets such as Haaretz, Ynet and to a lesser extent Israel Hayom, whose reporters are also MCA members, translate their reports from Hebrew into English, and would not be affected.

Another point suggested would be that each media outlet be represented by only one journalist, disqualifying several members of the association.

The committee is expected to submit its recommendation within six months to the IDF Spokesman, and has been authorized to invite any individual or representative to help in its work.
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