Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Al Jazeera: Leading the way in global media

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Al Jazeera: Leading the way in global media

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What was a failed venture of the BBC is now an independent 24/7 television news channel based in Qatar. Al Jazeera was launched in November 1996. Sheik Hamad of Qatar was disappointed by the lack of press freedom in the Arab world that he pledged to back the network and give it full editorial and content control. Sheik Hamad said:

"I believe criticism can be a good thing," the emir said in a 1997 speech, "and some discomfort for government officials is a small price to pay for this new freedom."

In a history about Al Jazeera on Allied-Media.com it gives a brief overview of where Al Jazeera began and where it is now. What started as a small network is now one of the leaders in global media. Here is information about present day Al Jazeera:

"The station has come a long way since it was launched in November 1996. With more than 30 bureaus and dozens of correspondents covering the four corners of the world Al Jazeera has given millions of people a refreshing new perspective on global events. Free from the shackles of censorship and government control, Al Jazeera has offered its audiences in the Arab world much needed freedom of thought, and room for debate."

Al Jazeera gives a new and different perspective about world news. It has been both praised and criticized about it coverage of world news. During the second Gulf War, Al Jazeera covered the war and showed images of the war that people were not prepared to see. There is a documentary film "Control Room" that follows Al Jazeera network and its journalists during the the second Gulf War. During that war some label the network the "mouthpiece of Osama Bin Ladin", supporters of Al Quada and the Taliban

An article in the NY Times by Brian Stelter he quotes Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English:

"Mr. Anstey said he thought that the channel had suffered from “some misconceptions about what Al Jazeera stood for.” During the Iraq war, the Arabic-language channel was criticized by Bush administration officials, and as recently as Friday the conservative Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly branded Al Jazeera as “anti-America.”

Others saw Al Jazeera network presenting the facts about the war. It was showing real images of the causalities of war both in the military and with the civilians.

Until the recent uprising in North Africa and the Middle East, Al Jazeera's main audience came from the Arab world of that region. Beginning with the revolution in Tunisia, Al Jazeera network became a force to be reckoned. They had launched an english language branch in 2006. Al Jazeera English is not available on most US cable or satellite networks so in order to access the network people would have to watch it online. In an article in Bizcommunity.com by Oresti Patricios writes how the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the coverage by Al Jazeera English made people tune in to the network:

"But that changed soon after revolution reared its head in Tunisia. The Tunisian revolution came and went very quickly, but it was long enough for people to realise that Al Jazeera English was the first news brand on the scene and was breaking all the big stories. Then came the mother of all insurrections, the Egyptian revolution. Of course Al Jazeera was ahead of international media networks.

Patricios writes that Al Jazeera's coverage was so influential that politicians and administrators in the White House watched the network:

"When the revolution broke out in Egypt and it became apparent that the White House would have to make a statement and get its foreign policy types in action, politicians and administrators in the US suddenly started finding a way to tune into Al Jazeera English. More so the media reports that when Barack Obama was watching the news on Egypt he was doing so from two sources. The one was CNN and the other was Al Jazeera English which was being streamed into the White House via a digital feed."

In the following clip Hillary Clinton addresses the fact that Al Jazeera is setting the standards for news and how the U.S. is falling behind.







Is Al Jazeera the new media model? Only time will tell.

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