City Research Online

Strategic Rituals of Loyalty: When Israeli Journalists Face Digital Hate

Panievsky, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-9296-7670 (2023). Strategic Rituals of Loyalty: When Israeli Journalists Face Digital Hate. Digital Journalism, 11(10), pp. 1940-1961. doi: 10.1080/21670811.2022.2118144


This article examines how and why Israeli journalists use their military service as a shield in response to online violence and digital hate. This practice, termed here the military-as-alibi strategy, is highly consequential. First, it excludes Israeli citizens who are exempt from military service (mostly Palestinian citizens of Israel and ultra-orthodox Jews). Second, it affirms the presumption that “good journalists” are not to be measured by their reporting, but rather by external loyalty tests that allegedly demonstrate their commitment to the national cause. Drawing on analyses of interviews with 20 Israeli journalists, media coverage and social media content, this article frames the military-as-alibi strategy within the local context of a militarised society, but also as part of journalists’ global struggle to win the hearts of their audiences in challenging times. Building on Tuchman (1972), the article labels journalists’ references to their military backgrounds as a strategic ritual of loyalty. The article proposes an alternative strategy to counter anti-press attacks: if journalism is indeed a public good (Pickard 2019), then “good journalism” should be considered “good citizenship”. This approach could free journalists from surrendering to nationalist loyalty tests, and lay better foundations for journalists–audiences relationships in the future.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Digital hate, online harassment, anti-media populism, militarism, nationalism, journalism under attack, professional identity, Israel
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
SWORD Depositor:
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