Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Al Jazeera Effect : The Struggle for News in the Arab World

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Al Jazeera Effect : The Struggle for News in the Arab World

Al Jazeera and other Arab satellite news networks have a big influence on public opinion in the Middle East. It does this in many ways. First, there was no competition between networks and most Middle Eastern people would have to tune into western television shows that didn’t really show the opinions of the Middle East world. Now, with Al Jazeera and other networks not only showing the news of the Middle East, they are competing with each other which make their product better and gives multiple sides of stories. Second, they are trying very hard to capture all the news. Al Jazeera is now using all technology available, using a very large staff to coverage, and having very graphic pictures and controversial topics to keep viewers interested. Also, most world channels that support the United States always report that actions are going well and the Iraqi government will soon fall. Networks that report this are pro-America and there biases clearly show. Many Arabs that live in the Iraqi and Middle East area aren’t pro-American and that’s where Al Jazeera steps in. Al Jazeera which clearly shows their bias with there anti-American reports brings more influence. An Iraqi 39-year old woman says she watches the news nearly all day and she mostly watches Al Jazeera. She says “They don’t lie, we have confidence in them and they have good translators.”

This woman’s opinion is quickly becoming the popular opinion of the Middle East. Al Jazeera says there are not bias at all and report the news of all nations with the same journalistic ideas. Hussien Amin is the chairman of the department of journalism and mass communication at the American University in Cairo and he says “Their impact is now huge”, and continues with “They are affecting Arab public opinion to a degree never reached before.”

Al Jazeera has not only affected the Arab world but it has also affected the attempts of America to influence the Arab world. Al Jazeera has showed all images of the war, especially from the point of view of the Arab world. When Al Jazeera shows the horrible side of war and explains that America invaded Iraq, many Arabs don’t respect the choice. The battle for America has been called an “uphill battle” and it’s not going to plan for America. Showing the mistakes of America and the images of poor Iraqi civilians suffering because of America has countered any remarks from high ranking American officials including Colin Powell. America has only been able to tell the public that the war is going well while Al Jazeera is showing the horrible images of war. "The political damage is very severe," said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor who studies Arab public opinion. "I think ultimately the U.S. will prevail militarily. But the real issue will be what are the consequences of that victory, and how people in the region perceive the United States after this is all over."

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