Response to SHATIL's daily pre-election e-newsletter providing links to articles on the election surpassed expectations, with hundreds of people reading and forwarding the newsletter. The project was born out of a conversation between Kinneret Minagen, part time logistical coordinator for SHATIL's Social and Economic Justice Project, and Center for Policy Change Director Shimon Malka. A graduate student in public policy, Minagen offered to volunteer an hour a day of her time to experience policy change on a practical level. Putting her interest in media together with objectives for the upcoming elections, they came up with the idea of a daily Internet survey of articles relating to the elections and Minagen set to work on a pilot. The project was launched and hundreds of people received and used the daily survey to broaden and deepen their knowledge on all aspects of the election campaign.
"We're giving people a different prism through which to look at the news," said Minagen, "And we make connections between different newspapers' presentation of the same events, thus reframing the issue for the reader and deepening his/her understanding.
"We also remained objective," said Kinneret. "It was hard, but we included many articles with which we didn't agree."
Malka: "This tool enabled people to have maximum exposure to media information without filters so that readers could make informed choices. We didn't censor any opinions; we relied on people's intelligence and believe information should flow freely."
"The newsletter is an amazing tool," wrote Cami Mizrachi of the Israel Religious Action Center, who said she forwards the newsletter to 30-40 people daily. "It enables me to stay current on all the issues of interest to me and my constituency. Many times, I got ideas for action from what I read."
Minagen said she learned a lot more about public policy by putting together the newsletter than she does at the university. "It's the first time I have a full understanding of what's going on in the campaign, that it's a mirror of society and a product of global and local forces; that it was strongly influenced by the war in Gaza," she said. "I saw that in the light of the Obama victory, people are thirsty for change and how candidates adjusted themselves to that."
SHATIL's Center for Policy Change intends to use the infrastructure of the daily survey to bring to readers weekly analyses of the changes and dynamics in Israel's new political reality after the elections, so they can be involved and remain up to date on developments relating to social issues.