During the past three weeks of Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008--January 18, 2009), Sderot Media Center reached its apex of media production-in working to provide the international media with on-the-ground updates on Hamas rocket fire against Sderot residents.
With over 796 Hamas rockets fired at Israel during the war, SMC continued to operate full time, with its six staffers and four interns, even under intense rocket fire. SMC staff worked around the clock, updating the SMC website on a regular basis with videos, articles and photo stills of rocket attacks and the personal stories of Sderot residents. Close to 40 articles were published and more than 20 video clips uploaded on the rocket situation.
The media center also worked closely with Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and gave countless interviews to international radio stations, while providing office space for visiting international journalists.
Photo:Hamutal Ben Shitrit
* Over 90,000 visitors from 138 countries visited SderotMedia.com during the IDF Operation in Gaza. The website provided information in 6 languages, including Spanish, French, and Russian, to people from around the globe.
* More than 30 leading international correspondents came through Sderot Media Center in the past month, utilizing our information services and SMC guided tours. Visitors included CNN, CBN News, De Standard, Norwegian TV, AP, India's Times Now, BBC radio, Australia's Channel 7, Germany's ARD, Hong Kong's Pheonix, South Africa's Sunday Times, France 24, Japan's NHK and more.
* The Israeli Foreign Ministry officially invited SMC to participate in two video press conferences with the Israeli embassies of Bangkok, Thailand, and Hanoi, Vietnam. The Israel Foreign Ministry also circulated a letter to Israeli embassies around the world, encouraging and endorsing SMC as a reliable source that conveys the human side of Sderot and western Negev residents.
* Israeli embassies in the UK, Italy, Bangkok, Turkey, Guatemala, and France, are now using an SMC video clip documenting Hamas's missile threat against Sderot and southern Israelis, in Israel-advocacy campaigns. The video, which has had thus far over 77,000 viewers, can be seen on YouTube:
* On January 6, 2009, The Israel Foreign Ministry wrote a SMC a letter of recommendation, praising SMC for its work and its production of the Sderot Media information packets (sponsored by StandWithUs www.standwithus.org ), which the Israeli Ministry distributed to Israeli embassies around the world and then utilized by foreign press and journalists. Hebrew version of the letter and English translation are attached.
* On January 11, 2009, the executive director of the Israel Government Press Office, Danny Seaman, requested that SMC host an unusual 'celebrity' guest: 'Joe the Plumber,' who became famous during the US Presidential elections. SMC had the privilege to host both Mr. Seaman and Joe, aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, and provided them with a private tour of Sderot, which was well documented by the international press: CNN, Fox News, AP, UK's The Guardian, The New York Times, The Tonight Show, Canada's CTV, and Israeli TV Channels 2 and Channel 10.
* By the end of December 2008, Sderot Media Center conducted more than 120 Israel advocacy media presentations, including 50 presentations on leading university campuses across North America.
Sderot Media Center recognizes that the real work in its media advocacy of Sderot and southern Israel has begun now.
Our goal at the Sderot Media Center is to make our media material on the rocket terror plaguing Sderot--which now threatens 1 million people in southern Israel-more widely accessible to foreign press and journalists.
Photo:Hamutal Ben Shitrit
The main goal for the next few months is building and remodeling the Sderot Media Center into a visitor's center.
During the past two years, SMC has hosted over 4,000 guests from around the globe, including diplomats, government officials, embassy personnel, foreign press and student groups.
A visitor's center-which provides comprehensive information, facts, and media documentaries on the Palestinian rocket situation and its impact on Sderot residents-- does not exist in the western Negev. By expanding SMC's current office to include such a visitor's centers, SMC will be able to provide a central location for visiting journalists and press to obtain information and material on Sderot in an effective and comprehensive manner.
The visitor's center will entail the following:
1) A comfortable atmosphere where the press will be able to watch news on cable TV, access wireless Internet, and obtain SMC material produced on Sderot and the area, while receiving updated briefings on the situation.
2) Presentation/Panel/Lecture room for student groups and visitors coming to Sderot, where SMC staff will conduct media presentations and lecturers on the rocket situation.
3) A volunteer and internship room furnished with computer, printer/fax, and office supplies.
4) An updated photo exhibit portraying life under a rocket reality and its impact on Sderot and area residents.