“Disappearance of the Dead Sea”: An Israeli Story Carried by the Media without References

Akeed – Local media outlets have ran material published by an Israeli newspaper, on the disappearance of the Dead Sea, without verifying the accuracy of the article’s sources or following up on the information contained therein. Further, the outlets did not inquire with research and academic institutions on the sea’s dropping water level and that it might face the risk of entirely disappearing soon, thus continuing to publish stories from Israeli sources without any verification by Jordanian or Arab media outlets.   

"Akeed" reviewed the original material in the Israeli journal, noting its content which was attributed to unknown societal sources –meaning a number of experts – without naming who they are. Local and Arab media outlets have imparted the news text without eliciting the opinion of academic sources specialized in this geological phenomenon, and without verifying the accuracy thereof and then providing information to the public.    

Although the dangers threatening the Dead Sea, including its receding shoreline, are indeed scientific facts which have become well-established for decades, the method in which Israeli media present these facts is generally characterized by a lack of scholarly references and linking these warnings with regional strategic projects for water. 

Local and Arab media have relied –in their most recent news on this- on material from an Israeli journal specializing in water and the environment under the title “Dead Sea in Danger”. Said journal did not clearly cite its sources, and published images showing the level of the drop the Dead Sea has been subject to throughout the years. Yet the media conveying this news did not substantiate the Israeli journal’s material.

For years, "Akeed" has followed journalistic material on the Dead Sea’s water levels, and has found items which contain various sources and statistics, while others literally just copy from Israeli media outlets without validating the accuracy of the content. Israeli news pieces had repeated phrases which indicate that one way to save the sea from disappearing lies in the completion of the Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyor project, which would supply the Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea.  

A Palestinian news agency has published an article titled “Dead Sea reaches lowest level in history”, which was not attributed to a specific source. It transmitted the material quoting experts who were not mentioned explicitly, with the exception of a single Jordanian source. Arab media outlets copied the same content, under the title “Expectations on the end of the Dead Sea’s life by mid-century”.

A Jordanian media outlet published an investigative report last March titled “Environmental defect colonizes the Dead Sea with no solutions on the horizon”. In this instance however, it was based on the perspectives of specialists and experts with clear names who corroborated the risk facing the Dead Sea. In 2018, a Jordanian newspaper published a piece on the water level of the Dead Sea titled “Continued decline of Dead Sea water level”, and this relied on the opinion of water specialists while mentioning official figures which followed the ongoing drop since the 1970s.

In September 2017, Jordanian media outlets – based on Israeli statistics- had published a report named “Drop of the Dead Sea level by 13 centimetres”, which included statements by Palestinian experts on the fate of the sea’s water. In 2014, a Palestinian media outlet published a piece called “Decline of the Dead Sea level and the significance of accelerating the Red-Dead Water Conveyor Project, which it transmitted from a Jordanian media source.

Through Akeed’s follow-up on news items in various local media regarding the Dead Sea water levels, it has become apparent that there are outlets which have cited numerous sources in the news piece and corroborated these with official figures and expert opinion affirming the danger facing the Dead Sea. Yet other media outlets have relied upon conveying news material from the Israeli media where the opinions of specialists were not mentioned, sufficing to merely use the word “experts”. None of these pieces contained any sources of academic or research institutions which of course provide accurate information on the basis of scholarly research.

"Akeed" reminds all of the professional standards that govern the credibility of a source listed in a news piece and which include the utilization of academic references, reliability of the source utilized and updating figures and statistics on a timely basis.