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Louiza Patsis December 2, 2006 Al-Jazeera: The New Voice in International Media
Al-Jazeera started to broadcast in 1996 from the tiny, rich Arab country of Qatar. It began after of a termination of contract in April 1996 between Rome-based, Saudiowned Orbit Radio and television Service and the Arabic TV division of BBC News Service Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway (30-31). This happened after Qatar cancelled the information-controlling Ministry of Information in 1995 (Rinnawi 128). The Saudi Arabian kingdom stopped financing the service when a documentary on executions in Saudi Arabia was shown. The initial idea for the service was that the success of the Arabic radio service of the BBC could be repeated on television. With AlJazeera, not only would the Arab world, which is widely illiterate (Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway, 58), have an audiovisual way to get news, but this time it would be an unbiased, wide-ranging news source, according to the authors studied. AlJazeera programming includes on-the-scene and off-the-scene reporting, as well as talk shows and an Arab and English Web sites. It is the premiere, most widely-known Arab news channel. It has been around since 1996, and has been a source of inspiration and controversy ever since. Parties ranging from US government officials to Arabs from different countries have blasted the station, accusing them of bias, graphic broadcasting, being pawns of their government, and concentrating too much or too little on various programming. Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway (21) write that Al-Jazeera first became internationally well-known on October 7, 2001 when it broadcast its first
videotape of Osama bin Laden. It was also the only network allowed by the Taliban in Afghanistan right after 9.11 and showed US strikes against that country. (21) Alternately, Rice and Rumsfeld have interviewed on Al-Jazeera. This paper will explore six aspects of Al-Jazeera and how five various authors speak about them. Below is a list of the authors and books:
Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East
Marc Lynch Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today
Hugh Miles Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel Tat Is Challenging the West*
Khalil Rinnawi Instant Nationalism: McArabism, Al-Jazeera and Transnational Media in the Arab World Rinnawi is a lecturer in the School of Media and the department of behavioral science at the College of Management in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Steve Tatham Losing Arab Hearts and Minds: The Coalition, Al-Jazeera and Muslim Public Opinion Tatham is a serving officer in the Royal navy and a corporate communications specialist.
The topics or questions to be explored are:
1. Is Al-Jazeera biased, most likely toward Arab and/or Muslim opinion? 2. Is Al-Jazeera too graphic, in images such as those of bomb victims? 3. Is Al-Jazeera opening a door or furthering the expression of a variety of viewpoints and liberal ideas in the Arab world, especially through shows like its talk shows? 4. Is Al-Jazeera representative of an Arab and/or Muslim voice or public sphere in the world? 5. Is Al-Jazeera a leading media force in the world? 6. Is Al-Jazeera contributing to global news flow and to globalization?
Surprisingly, all of the single-author books on Al-Jazeera found revealed a mostly positive and optimistic view on all of the topics, with the exceptions of some subtle discrepancies within each book and between books.
Topic I: Is Al-Jazeera biased, most likely toward Arab and/or Muslim opinion?
Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway believe that Al-Jazeera encompasses no bias new reporting (23), writing that it gives “evenhanded reporting and uninhibited critique of authoritarian regimes have rattled the Arab world”. This is a reason why many Arab leaders criticize Al-Jazeera, making the case of some US officials that it is biased
against Americans. They write that Al-Jazeera “operates under very little government restriction (25). The media source however, does not put down members of the Qatar ruling family, which have partly financed it. They write that Seikh Hamad, who overthrew his father in Qatar in a coupe and who was educated in Great Britain, gave an initial $140 million to the network, and wanted it to be independent and non-partisan (33). In fact, Qatar is “liberal” among Arab and Muslim countries. For instance, women outnumber men in national university and vote (37), and one of Sheikh Hamad’s wives led a delegation of specialists to visit US institutions. This marked the first time that wife of an Arabian Gulf ruler went out of the country without her husband. He shocked people by saying that Arab parents cannot force a daughter to marry a suitor she does not like (Miles 44). Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway (41) agree with other authors that before Al-Jazeera, Arabs were stuck between a rock and a hard place: they could listen to Western news media that was biased and usually in English, which most of them could not understand, and listening or watching state-controlled Arab news networks that were either biased or simply did not focus on many topics past what the king or emperor were doing. The same authors point out (49) that several Arab leaders have been infuriated over Al-Jazeera, such as the leaders of Libya and Kuwait, which threatened to pull their ambassadors from Qatar in protest, Palestinian officials more than once closed the offices of Al-Jazeera in Palestine. This would lend evidence hat Al-Jazeera is not biased toward an Arab or Muslim viewpoint. They write how al-Jazeera was pulled from Kuwait at one
point for criticizing it leaders (120) In fact, the Arab States Broadcasting Union, which monitors the performance of Arab networks, has been very critical of Al-Jazeera (122). They write that Al-Jazeera represents an array of views (51): “Secularists debate fundamentalists, Israelis debate Palestinians, Iraqis debate Kuwaitis. There is no bias.” They go one to say that they interview such opposing leaders as bin Laden and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minster Shimon Peres. Israel has even praised it for credibility and professionalism (51). They astutely point out (54) that there is “a fine line between a real reporting bias and presenting the news from an Arab point of view to Arab viewers through the world”. They go on to write that Arab viewers educated or brought up in the Western world often go to CNN for news. They write how Sharon Waxman of the Washington Post said in an article that all news organizations are a product of their culture. They write (57) how Al-Jazeera coverage of Palestinian uprising, where they called on Arab leaders to do more for the Palestinians ignited Palestinian demonstrations and led several Arab governments to accuse Al-Jazeera of inciting violence. They talk about how some media experts say that Al-Jazeera is biased toward te well-being of Arabs but also tries to show all views(184). For instance, they cite Al-Jazeera managing director Al-Ali saying that since so many different entities are against Al-Jazeera, they must not be so biased. Joel Campagna, program director for Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) , said that Al-Jazeera is well-respected; it is biased as every channel is, but does its best to air all points of views (184). Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway (8) do write that Al-Jazeera is biased in not reporting several things about the Qatar government: lack of viable parliamentary
structures, legitimacy of the monarchy, and progress toward democracy. For instance, the network did not report on the emir postponing parliamentary work for two years at one point (83). On page 84 they write about how Faisal Al-Kasim, the host of the most popular Al-Jazeera talk show The Opposite Direction, said “Nothing that happens in Qatar is worth covering”. The authors disagree: “None of these arguments holds much water. The fact is that events in Qatar are important, if for no other reason than that it is member of the network’s target audience – the Arab world. Moreover, Al-Jazeera covers events even on the tiny island of Bahrain…” They write (860 that Kasim says that no one prevents him from covering anything. The authors think that Al-Jazeera “turns a blind eye” to the Qatari government so as not to tarnish the country’s “emerging reputation as a progressive state”. The authors reviewed the Law of Print and Publication of 1979: “1. The media cannot and should not undermine or criticize the emir in any way; 2. The media are prohibited from publishing anything that could undermine the ‘established order’ or endanger the current political regime; and 3. the state has the right to impose censorship on the media to ensure restrictions 1 and 2. (87) Thus there does seem to be a bias by AlJazeera in not reporting on newsworthy items of the Qatari government. The authors also write (95) that, on the other hand, Al-Jazeera’s small advertising revenue do not make it controlled by media conglomerates as perhaps other media corporations are. They write how Al-Jazeera offered different viewpoints from Arab leaders, as in its first interview after 9.11, when it interviewed Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, who said that the US had the right to retaliate, although he did not call the act
“terrorism”. They write (102) that the Al-Jazeera talk shows are not biased, and that AlJazeera is open to nonsecular and secular thinking (103). They write (107) that they know of no other Arab network that hosts US and Western guests. They write (114-115) how many Arab such as Saudi leaders claim that “programming has crossed acceptable boundaries by criticizing officials. From 123-133 they review some complaints that various governments, such as the case of Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Libya have had against Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera usually covered Saddam Hussein’s birthday bashes annually, for instance (125). Iraq protested that one coverage was “too American style and Iraq officials did not like Al-Jazeera showing starving Iraqi children, something that CNN did not show with the US sanctions. Palestinians objected to Al-Jazeera’s image of Arafat with a shoe hanging from it – a sign of disrespect in the Middle East. The offices of Al-Jazeera were shut down temporarily in Ramallah. A Jordanian official said that alKasim’s tongue should be cut out (129). Palestinians also protested when Egypt hosted the Arab summit in 2000 (137). Yet the authors write that it is every criticism, popularity of Al-Jazeera has grown (128). In addition, many Arab governments grant Al-Jazeera access to sources and facilities to appease the network and court favorable coverage. In this country, both conservatives and liberals criticize Al-Jazeera. This may mean that it is not biased after all. For instance, on an episode of Saturday Night Live (162-163), Al-Jazeera managing director Mohammed Jasim Al-Ali and it Afghanistan reporter Tayseer Allouni were made fun of, and it was joked that Bill Cosby would start making made-for-television movies with them. Powell an other US officials objected to the bin Laden tapes (177). However, those tapes were newsworthy and not broadcasting
them can be as much biased as broadcasting them. The authors writes (199) that the basic promise of network “is that the ‘truth’ on any subject can be reached only if all possible opinions are exposed and argues, usually exhaustively, sometimes to the point of on-air fistfights.” Rinnawi writes that McArabism is* an opposing force to that of jihad in the Arab world and encompasses structure, content and audience. Structure refers to “complex game over control and ownership between transnational media stations, owners and political, social and religious elites. Content means tension found in political and sociocultural arenas, and is reflected in which content the media broadcasts. Transnational media pushes for freedom to elect content attracting the largest audience, political and social forces try to prevent the broadcast of content challenging political and sociocultural status – quos. He writes that most independent Arab news media like Al-Jazeera contribute to this. He notes (87) that Al-Jazeera, compared to several of this stations, take sin less advertising dollars, as Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway noted. For instance (87), the LBCI took in $93 million in advertising in 2000, while Al-Jazeera took in just $15 million. He points out that 60% of Arab channels are state-owned, while 30% are semiprivate (80). Al-Jazeera is one of the few Arab channels that are independent. he explicitly writers (62): “Despite the proliferation of satellite channels, Al-Jazeera filled a new need for relatively unbiased, critical, well-covered news from an Arab perspective.” He wrote (88) about pressure from Arab countries or social elite value organizations against Arab media organizations. Often transnational television channels received pressure from pan-Arab institutions to restrain critical content offending other
Arab regimes. The Satellite Channels Coordinating Committee in the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) took a collective stand against Al-Jazeera after controversial political programs. It is hard to see how Al-Jazeera could be biased if so many different entities from US government officials to Arabian Prime Ministers attacked it. Rinnawi writes how Palestinian officials closed the Ramallah Al-Jazeera offices in May 2001 without prior notice (89) because of a critical report made by an Al-Jazeera reported in Ramallah about about the administrative performance of the PLO, accusing it of abusing power and corruption. In addition, a preview of an Al-Jazeera documentary featured how Palestinian guerillas played a role in the Lebanese 1975-1990 war. Al-Jazeera has interviewed both PLO and Hamas officials, further showing that it is not biased. He writes how Al-Jazeera critiques all Arab states except Qatar, therefore agreeing with Adel Iskandar and Mohammed El-Nawaway. He writes that an Israeli businessperson has contributed money to Al-Jazeera (102). This also makes it difficult to believe that Al-Jazeera is biased. Al-Jazeera has been the victim of theories of Zionist conspiracy, partly because of this funding. From page 106 to page 108 he lists some AlJazeera programs, ranging from religion to politics. Topics have a wide range and do not appear biased. They include talking about the Koran for various perspectives. The author does suggest that, when Al-Jazeera had Palestinian guests, “the way those program were handled by news anchors reflected a clear disenchantment with Israel’s excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians” (112). He writes about two different titles given to the same event in Palestine by AlJazeera and Jordanian television. They are both biased, but the Jordanian one is less so. He goes on to write how the Jordanian coverage isles than that of Al-Jazeera (112-113),
and how the Al-Jazeera coverage was much more holistic, including an interview with an Israeli official. The titles are in Al-Jazeera: “Israeli supreme court decision to allow a fanatic Jewish group to place a stone foundation for the building of a third Jewish temple in the area surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem”, and for Jordan: “Jordan warns about the consequences of Israeli Supreme Court decision permitting a Jewish fanatic group to place a foundation within the gates of al-Aqsa in Eastern Jerusalem.” Al-Jazeera will be for the well-being and rights of Arab people and especially civilians, but it does not seem as biased as other Arab news networks. From page 116 to 119, Rinnawi lists several days of reporting in 2001 to compare CNN, Al-Jazeera and a Jordanian network. He shows that Al-Jazeera provides more relevant news from the Arab world such as the Arab-Israeli conflicts while CNN sometime skips the stories and the Jordanian network sometimes concentrated on King Abdullah. Rinnawi writes (121) that compared to other Arab networks and to Western sources of Arab news, Al-Jazeera is credible. He does write (122) that Al-Jazeera can bring in more Israeli voices, although doing that may “risk a loss of legitimacy to individual Al-Jazeera reporters and perhaps to Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the conflict”. He writes that more Israeli voices are being interviewed by Al-Jazeera. He concludes (149) that Arab news networks like Al-Jazeera and a sense of Arab identifying the Middle East have contributed to McArabism. Regarding bias, Lynch writes how Al-Jazeera views could be found in Arab television (5): moderate American on Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, and radical antiAmericans on Hezbollah-owned al-Manar, and “all points in between”. Al-Jazeera is one
of the few networks to show most, if not all, voices. He writes how Al-Jazeera has critics in the Western and Arab world, making its bias questionable (6). Lynch (16) and Miles write how Saddam Hussein wanted to enjoy a good relationship with Al-Jazeera because of its popularity and influence. He quotes Mohamed Krishan: “…our target is public opinion, the masses...to win the confidence of the people in this station, even at the expense of the anger of the official Arab institutions and the United States (25).He does write (26, 62) that by late 2001, even before 9.11, the opinion expressed on Al-Jazeera became more coarse, angry, and emotional. He writes how Al-Jazeera was not as biased as news networks like al-Manar, that France moved to van for its anti-Semitic programming (45). Lynch does write that Al-Jazeera resembled Fox in its overwhelming focus on one side of the conflict to the exclusion of the other”. Fox focused on stories of American soldiers while Al-Jazeera focused on Arab views. For instance, they called the American war in Iraq “invasion” not liberation” (219). CNN and other networks, comparatively, use terms like “war on terror”. All the authors probably share this view, because after all, AlJazeera is an Arab news source that is conscious of the world’s not knowing that much about Arab opinion; however, they also claim that, although this is the case, it is less biased than other Arab networks, is not state-controlled except perhaps in its not criticizing Qatari government, and does a considerably fair share of showing different sides. Lynch suggests that Al-Jazeera in the future can be even more fair in its news coverage by having American guests that are less conservative, unlike conservative guests in the past such as “hawkish ‘terror expert’ Steven Emerson”. Lynch suggests
having an American Muslim, for instance. If this does not happen, he writes that viewers may not get a correct sense of the distribution of opinions and may believe that the other side” so more radical than it is (48). Then he turns around and writes (55) that Al-Jazeera is not biased in that it does conduct regular self-critique. He also writes on page 236 that Al-Jazeera hosts routinely invited Al-Jazeera critiques on the shows, as when Faisal alKasim invited one of his fiercest critics Shaker al-Nabulsi. Al-Jazeera established an honor code to govern its programming (236). On page 134 he show some good analysis of Iraq-themed Al-Jazeera talk shows In 1999: Of 26 guess, five were Kuwaiti, five were pro-regime Iraq, seven identified to the Iraqi opposition, three were Arab journalists who usually sided with opposition and six were Arab writers critical of US sanctions. This seems well-balanced and unbiased. Nevertheless (171) Al-Jazeera came under criticism of their word choices, the broadcasting of civilians in agony, and the varying opinion of guess. Al-Jazeera was even accused of aiding and abetting the Iraqi insurgency and of undermining the transition to Iraq democracy. He also writes that when Hazem Sha’alam, Iraqi interim defense minister and one of Al-Jazeera’s starches critiques, wanted to launch an attack on politic arrival Ahmed Chalabi called on “what he knew to be the most prominent and influential media outlet in Iraq: Al-Jazeera” (227). He believes, in Iraq’s case, that Al-Jazeera is very interested in democracy there. To sum up, Lynch’s views on bias on Al-Jazeera are that (192): “…Al-Jazeera was considered the most credible news source and remained the most-watched station, albeit its considerable regional variations” (Abu Dhabi did better in the UAE than elsewhere, for example, and the LBC in Lebanon). On page 212 he writes: “The Al-
Jazeera hosts generally tried to stay out of the way of the callers, rather than impose their own viewpoints, and the callers represented a diverse cross-section of Arabs from all over the world.” He writes how Al-Jazeera is dedicated to reform in Arab countries (241). On bias, Miles believes that Al-Jazeera shows different sides of each story. He writes how different regimes were not satisfied with Al-Jazeera, as the Saudis when it aired bin Laden videotape (53) He writes about (88-89) how Mr. Al-Asim’s younger brother Magd was kicked out of Egypt just for being related to someone on Al-Jazeera, since it had featured guests opposed to the Egyptian regime. In other words, Al-Jazeera was not afraid to have guests that would offend different Arab factions. The manager alAli said that he does not want to hide anything from the audience (92). Miles writes (93) how Al-Jazeera is interested in voicing the Israeli and the Arab view on conflicts, unlike other Arab media that are interested in either or. Al-Jazeera emphasized that Israeli victims of suicide bombs were civilians, not military (95). He also writes (99) about Palestinians closing the Ramallah office of Al-Jazeera. He wrote about how the New York-based CPJ said that this move basic international norms for free expressing (100). Al Omary of Al-Jazeera told the PLO that he would not change his coverage (103) Many Americans and American officials accused Al-Jazeera of perhaps passing on bin Laden coded messages or furthering terrorist tendencies by airing his videotapes. Miles points out (136) that some of those same networks, like CNN used Al-Jazeera footage like parts of the videotapes and US strikes on Kabul. He calls Al-Jazeera “impossible to ignore” (145). He does write about bias (155) in that Al-Jazeera did not show American accounts of civilian bombing in Kabul. On the same page, he writes that a White House memo sent to the Arab world expressed that a free press there was a threat to the US.
He writes about the US eavesdropping on Al-Jazeera communication between Doha, Qatar and Kabul (163). Perhaps they had to worry about Al-Jazeera revealing some truths. Interestingly enough, the US has a military base in Qatar (197). It is interesting since it does not seem the US can influence the Qatari government to change Al-Jazeera policies. Miles writes that Al-Jazeera rejected the legitimacy of the war in Iraq; it even had Iraqis working for it who knew laces getting bombed (241), yet it did have some pro-war voices on its shows. It did call US forces “invasion forces” and referred to Hussein as President. Its coverage was complete, from Baghdad, Mosul, Gasra and the Kurdish zone in the north (243). He gives an example of how other news networks did not always report fact: a study by Professor Justin Lewis of University of Cardiff showed how the four major British television networks – BBC, ITN, Sky News and Channel 4 – showed that what was reported was up to 49% based on unsubstantiated statements issued by the British government, and about 17% was based only on uncorroborated government reports (247). Al-Jazeera did broadcast videotapes of Arab groups calling for soldiers and bombers to help in Iraq (294-295). Someone in the US administration or military must have thought that Al-Jazeera reporters in Iraq were biased: Al-Jazeera reports that its journalists there have been beaten, arrested and threatened and their equipment has been confiscate (301). If this is so, whoever is behind this may not be a true proponent of unbiased news. Paul Wolfowitz blamed Al-Jazeera for the escalation of violence against troops in Iraq. However, the bulk of the world’s press, according to Miles (302) defended Al-Jazeera. He writes (344) that staff is small and they take pride in their work, since they know that they are making history. Like Lynch, Miles (380) writes how governments such as that of
Libya go to Al-Jazeera to announce material because of the network’s credibility, even if they at other times complain about it. All in all, Miles thinks that Al-Jazeera, compared to even some US media sources sometimes, is “a model of professionalism and objectivity: (359). He writes that sometimes US press can be biased (358). For instance, they talk about how it refers to a “period of calm” when no Israelis but many Palestinians are killed and refers to Israeli assassinations of political activists as “targeted killings” by Israeli “security forces”. He does write that journalists try not to be biased, but its talk shows inspire hate (367, third topic). He writes on page 388 that the US should, instead of blaming Al-Jazeera for hatred that some Arabs feel toward it, look a other reasons such as its support of Israel. At the end of the book, he quotes some Arab-Americans in Detroit who watch Al-Jazeera and believe that it is non-biased. Here is an example from page 403: “I like to watch a free and open media and Al-Jazeera is open – they have dialogue. They bring two enemies at the same table. Al-Jazeera are truthful. They have courage. They show you the reality….” Tatham (69) writes that the West mostly did not care about Al-Jazeera since it showed the Arab viewpoint, implying that the West in general did not care about Arab viewpoints insofar as the "common person". He writes that this changed after 9.11 with Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the US troops in Afghanistan. He does describe other Arab news channels, which is beyond the scope of this paper. He writes that Al-Jazeera and Al- Arabiya are the most unbiased. He writes (62) how Al-Jazeera has been described as anti-American, anti-Arab and anti-Jewish, and that it has “transformed civil society in the Arab world”. He writes about how American media has been biased against Arabs since 15
they are often portrayed in movies as terrorists. He writes that what led to Al-Jazeera was: “...the obvious domination of news by Western network providers, the beginning of a momentum for free expression, and the inequalities of the Palestinian-Israeli issue formed the catalyst of the explosion that was to come…” Tatham is British and gives us a glimpse of English Lieutenant Commander Mark Hankey’s views on Al-Jazeera; he thinks that their journalists were polite compared to their Western counterparts and treated the British well. He writes about different players from Americans to Arabs find objection with Al-Jazeera( 125). It appears that the US was more concerned with coverage of its side for the war from memos it sent to foreign embassies to find positive photographs, like those of an American soldier helping Iraqi women and children (129). He writes about the CPC sending an open letter to Rumsfeld accusing him of bombing the Palestinian hotel where journalists were staying, including those of Al-Jazeera, on purpose (179). It does not seem, if this is true, that some US officials were interested in unbiased reporting. He wrote in general about the Arab media that they had to some extent write the Iraqi war story in terms of an Arab viewpoint (191), as can be said for US media. He wrote that anything else would be “commercial suicide” since Arabs were the biggest audience. He writes (92) that “no British reporter could be neutral when his own country was fighting; objectivity was a peacetime luxury, and reporting an extension of the war effort”. The Arab media focused on the human lose of war (199). Hatitx al-Mirazi, Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera, said that AlJazeera is accused of being the West’s mouthpiece, and said that they have more Western than Arab guests (193) He wrote that Al-Jazeera did not favor any side in the recent Iraq
war, but wanted to show that there are many complex sides; they did not favor Saddam’s regime or the invasion (274). He writes that Al-Jazeera may not be perfect, yet it is not as criticized as the BBC or the “heavily-slanted” Fox News (202). . He writes that the US and its international counterparts missed opportunities to win Arab hearts and minds (203) and that the world media community in general has a growing respect for Arab media and a diminishing respect for Western media (208-209). He wrote here about the unprecedented in the Arab world international conference that Al-Jazeera held to show its new code of ethics. Several Arab media sources, as well as the BBC and Fox News, attended. Al-Jazeera was open to criticism, yet most news sources showed them respect. Synopsis of Topic I The authors have high regard for Al-Jazeera. They do believe that it is under some control of the Qatari government and so does not criticize it. They also believe that it does speak more about the Arab view of topics, but point out that it has not fully satisfied any one Arab or Muslim faction or country, and that it is natural for the network to tend to express a point of view from where it originates, as other media sources, such as American and British ones, do as well. Lynch favors more moderate guests, and Miles wants to see more American views broadcast, as in Afghanistan.
Topic II: Is Al-Jazeera too graphic, in images such as those of bomb victims? Many US and Western government officials and media networks accused AlJazeera of broadcasting material that is too graphic, saying that this is not good taste and 17
may incite Arab public opinion against the West. El-Nawawy and Iskandar (167) write that Al-Jazeera does not shy way from showing different images of war, implying that this is part of the free press, including graphic images of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. They write that often the images “serve Israeli interests”. Rinnawi writes how, unlike other state-controlled Arab news media whose trend is toward screening safe material, Al-Jazeera does not have that pressure (94). He writes (124) that their being accused of sensationalism is overly critical. He writes that interest and lobby groups have made much of Arab and Western media “bland, rather than balanced”. Balance to the West, he writes on page 125, often means “ preserving AngloEuropean interests (and by extension, Israeli interests), an absence of critique, analysis or context to relevant contemporary events and the silence of subaltern voices. He gives as an example the criticism of Al-Jazeera (124) for repeatedly showing the killing by Israelis of te 12-year-old Palestinian youth Mohamed Al-Durra who was trying to escaping fire with his fire. Although this can be graphic for some audience members, it does show the true events happening to innocent civilians, something that much of Western media does not show, at least anywhere close to as often as it happens. He writes (144-145) that Israeli television covers Israeli-Palestinian events less effectively than Al-Jazeera due to political or public onion sensitivities, not showing graphic images of suicide bombings and civilian-soldier conflicts. He does write that, even though some Israeli guests appear on Al-Jazeera shows, the image of Israel is mostly negative with these images. In fact, Al-Jazeera journalists that covered the second infatada have had ID cards stolen or have been killed or expelled by Israelis. Lynch writes about Arab critics of Al-Jazeera sensationalism, where the network shows beheadings 18
and chaos: a. American-based Egyptian columnist Mamoun Fandy said that it is political pornography; b. Mohammed Ma’wadh of Kuwait University complains that the new media incline to sensationalism without focus and scientific dialogue; c. and Al-Hayat journalism Haxem al-Amin said that Al-Jazeera is dominated by “the spirit of dogmatically Islamic Yousuf al-Qaradawi and the legacy of the former director Mohammed Janssen d. a Saudi newspaper editor wrote that the Arab media is in crisis, showing tears and wailing which not reporting; e. an Iraqi writer wrote that the” inciting media is murdering the dreams of an emerging Iraq; and f. a Kuwaiti writer Gulf nation media sources spread a culture of killing (d-f from 238). He writes that the broadcasting of the death of Mohammed al-Dura as “defining the shared Arab experience of the crisis and directly contributing to a resurgence of protest activity” (42). So he sees the need for this type of broadcasting, and also sees some perhaps adverse effects it may have. In fact, Palestinians named Al-Jazeera as their most-watched satellite television went up from 51% to 58% from 1999 to June 2004. The author does not find objection with AlJazeera’s show of the results of US sanctions on Iraqi children, such as starvation and living conditions (98). He writes about the period 1997-2002, including the second infatada: “Its [AlJazeera’s] live coverage of these contentious events, in real time, with graphic imagery and openly supportive and engaged commentary, defined those conflicts for viewers in intensely personal and vivid ways” (128). Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi were the only two networks allowed to operate outside the Iraqi Ministry of Information, infuriating many with their coverage (190). He does write that the beheading videos went too far, and “seemed to embody a helpless despair, a nihilistic failure of hope” (230). He writes that
at one point Al-Jazeera denied showing beheadings, and offered a $10,000 reward if it would be proven (235). Miles writes that some Al-Jazeera footage is “graphic, with heart-rendering testimonies and explicit photographs (99). Photographs from Afghanistan not aired by Western media were made popular by Al-Jazeera, and showed civilians getting killed, as in the 93 killed in the village of Chukar, including 18 members of one family (161). AlJazeera was honest, for instance, although it was rumored that hundreds of casualties happened at Jenin in Palestine, Al-Jazeera reported and showed that there were tens of casualties (191). He writes how it is Al-Jazeera policy that the faces of dead are not shown and the names are not revealed until it is verified that their parents know (74). He also writes about how Al-Jazeera stopped airing a video of dead soldiers after a request from the Pentagon to do so, at least the families were notified (249-250). His does show that Al-Jazeera is not rigid in this affair.
Tatham writes how the Algerian government cut power to two cities to prevent families from watching an Al-Jazeera program on its civil war (69).He points out that there was not outcry when American media showed Saddam Hussein’s two dead sons (120). The Iraqi reporter Jihad Ali-Ballout quotes (132) that “…in the Middle East it was not shocking to see carnage – we have been living through it for decades…be it in Lebanon, Yemen or Palestine, it has something to do with belief in fatalism…” An issue can be if US families were to see casualties on Al-Jazeera television before knowing of their family member’s passing. He then points out that Al-Jazeera is not readily available
in the US and families may know about casualties before they are shown on television (134). He writes that Al-Jazeera.net will be watered down, and his opinion is that that may be a shame: “In one sense that is regrettable: Al-Jazeera has made its name by showing the ‘other’ side of the debate, airing imagery shunned by other networks. A change in this policy may dilute its strong brand image…providing little sense of the channel’s more controversial output” (211). Synopsis of Topic II The authors all agree that Al-Jazeera is graphic compared to Western media. However, they seem to agree that this at least shows “the other side” of events in the Middle East. Some like to say that certain situations like beheadings (Lynch) or showing casualties up close before their families have found out (Miles) may be taking it too far.
Topic III. Is Al-Jazeera opening a door or furthering the expression of a variety of viewpoints and liberal ideas in the Arab world, especially through shows like its talk shows? I believe that talk shows like these will get the Middle East consciously and subconsciously used to free debate, looking at different sides of an issue, and such important issues as women’s rights, that are sometimes talked about in talk shows specific to them. All authors mention The Opposite Direction, Al-Jazeera’s most popular talk show, hosted by Faisal Al-Kasim . It is famous for its wide range of topics and guests. El-Nawawy and Iskandar writes how there is not much censorship in their talk shows and 21
how they have broken up years of “drab propaganda, endless soap operas and outdated cabaret acts”(43). He gives the picture of chaos mixed with intellect (50): “Its programs often contain fiery debates and arguments that appear to be on the verge of fistfights, but Al-Jazeera’s producers strive to maintain more than a semblance of intellectual rigor as well”. He quotes Israeli guest Gideon Ezra, former deputy head of the General Security Service (GS): “I wish all Arab media were like Al-Jazeera” (51). He calls Al-Jazeera’s talk shows granting the people of Qatar a “real taste of freedom”, but notes that when it comes to their national issues “they see nothing but tiresome government public relations” (85). He writes how talk shows like The Opposite Direction result in “floods of telephone calls to the studios and reams of protests throughout the Arab press” (92). He writes about how Mr. Al-Kasim before each show expounds on the two different sides of the issue. He gives one of many examples of opposing guests on pages 96 to 97: Guests for The Opposite Direction included a renowned US diplomat and an Arab scholar with deep-seated anti-American views, especially after the strikes on Afghanistan. Leaders such as Quaddafi have been on the show. It is not the most controversial Al-Jazeera talk show, however (100); Anther Men Ray’s (More Than One Opinion) is. It deals with scientific, cultural, economic, social and political issues. Discussions are “no-holdsbarred” (101). People on The Opposite Direction even talk about religion. On one show (103), a religious figure had it our with a prominent Arab secularist and professor of philosophy in Damascus. The authors do suggest having moderates instead of usual two opposing thoughts on the show. They have been told (105) that The Opposite Direction is about 22
two opposing views. Nevertheless, the Arab world is exposed to these views and to healthy debates. The authors write: “Make no doubt, the real winners are Arab viewers, whose understanding of the issues is enhance by exposure to two extremely conflicting points of view” (106). They write (5) that the view that Al-Jazeera cannot promote a move toward greater Arab democratization and political mobilization as one-dimensional, even though its talk shows have not initiated coups nor motivated the Arab people to revolt violently in te streets. The network has been credited with playing a role in mobilizing support for Palestinians and sustaining their current uprising which started with the second Palestinian infatada in September 2000. The authors warn that Al-Jazeera should “be mindful of its responsibilities, of its unique role as the trailblazer for a liberal media voice in the Arab world”. Rinnawi (22) writes that generally in the Arab world there have been less gatekeepers intervening in the process of bringing reality to audiences. He writes how state-controlled media is continuously manipulated, preserving balances of power and dominant perceptions of reality” (31). He writes (32) that imported programs in the Arab world can “lead to change domestic sociopolitical and religious cultural orders and values”. The same can certainly be said for Al-Jazeera’s talk shows. He calls the ability of the audience to take part in talk shows by telephone, fax or email r “is a dramatic development in the history of the broadcast media in the Arab world” (47). He writes (87) that Al-Jazeera has made “few concessions to sensitive egos worried about tarnished images or ridicule”, and hat this is a source of continuous critique for Al-Jazeera. For instance, in 1998 Egypt’s state media and a campaign against Al-Jazeera’s “superficial” 23
programs, and its “sinister salad of sex, religion and politics” and “sensationalist seasoning” (88). To add to different views, within the Arab world, on Al-Jazeera, the author notes that its reporters come from a variety of countries, from Mauritania to Iraq (104). From page 105 to 107, he lists different programs and their topics, which cover a wide range. For instance, Sir Lil Shaya (Highly Confidential) explores issue surrounded by secrecy. He writes about how Al-Jazeera has broken political taboos (136) and has created new dialogues in the public sphere with women and other topics (153). He does point out (146) that in the short tem, sensationalism may negatively affect Arab relation’s with Israel, but believes in the long term normalization occurs, and “will continue to work to create a spirit of openness about Israel – both negative and positive, but nevertheless, placing Israel firmly on the Arab political map and consciousness”. I believe that it may open the door to debate and getting Arabs accustomed to it, stretching them far in issues and talk, and that this will make it easier for them to see everyday less fiery topics as normal when conflict debates and both sides talk more and more. Lynch writes about variety of hosts on Al-Jazeera (5). He quotes al-Kasim is saying that the talk shows have formed an Arab opinion for the first time. (24).He writes (32) that the talk shows “transform the satellite television stations into a genuinely unprecedented carriers of public argument”. He writes that the talk shows can give an outlet of anger after seeing graphic images (128). He called the talk shows after the fall of Baghdad “remarkable”(172). He talks about how an Al-Jazeera talk show host told arguing callers that the reason for the talk show was “to present your views, not to be a
platform for insults or poison or incitement or defamation of some individual or group” (204), hinting that the news network cares to keep being a balanced force in braodcasting. He does find a gap for improvement (54): He writes that an Arab in the news business Khaled Haroub said that the talk does not offer an opportunity for solutions can remain words in the air. He seems to agree, asking :”…If Arabs cannot act on their opinions, then do those opinions matter?” He also mentions a Kuwaiti critic who said that rivalry between Arab satellite networks may lead them to focus on sex and puts songs over impending issues (62). He writes (98) that The Opposite Direction “hints at the priority of political controversy over a commitment to democratic process”. Miles writes that many Arabs had never seen an Israeli before viewing Al-Jazeera talk shows (39). He writes that Al-Kasim has been accused of being a Zionist, communist, Freemason and Arab nationalist (40-41). He shows the wide variety of topics covered on his show and the wide variety of possible interpretations. This in my opinion is good in opening up the most closed Arab societies to new views. He wrote how Kuwaitis were appalled at the bashing of their emir on the live Al-Jazeera show Religion and Life (54). This shows that open dialogue is advanced by these shows, especially because they are live. He writes about how Al-Jazeera adopted a code of ethics (324) to, as the Qatar emir said, make sure that there was “a line between news and commentary, to avoid ‘the trap of propaganda and speculation”, and always strive to keep key values, like transparency, honesty and balance, in focus.” He does not think that the liberal talk topics on shows like Al-Jazeera will necessarily lead to more democratic ideas in the Middle East (325-326). He points out
that news has always been readily available there. I differ since it has been mostly statecontrolled and soft news. He goes on to write that the graphic images and talk shows may actually be tranquillizing Arabs. This may be the case; one would have to go to the region and interview people to find out for sure. He writes that the most polar Arab shows are still Lebanese and Egyptian soap operas and films, and treat people talking does not mean that they will take action. He does write that the media, even those critical of Al-Jazeera, emulated it, such as news media in Egypt (331-332). He even writes that talk shows lead to hate (366). Tatham writes how al-Kasim has reached cult status in the Middle East (126). He writes that the idea of phoning in was “inconceivable” before Al-Jazeera. He does not write more on this topic. Synopsis of Topic III The authors tend to believe that the ideas discussed on talk shows are good for having people in the Middle East hear different views, communication and the spread of liberal ideas. Lynch finds some gaps between where the talk shows are and where they can be, and that they do not lead to action. Miles thinks that they may be succumbing to sensationalism and may even lead to hate. I think that it is a step in the subconscious and consciousness of people that may very well lead to popularity of democratic ideas such as elections and women’s rights and may be the first step in actions taken for people of different ideas like Israelis and Jews to come together for peace.
Topic IV: Is Al-Jazeera representative of an Arab and/or Muslim voice or public sphere in the world? El-Nawawy and Iskandar write that before Al-Jazeera Arabs had to go to Western or Arab state-run programs such as Voice of America, Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East, and BBC World Service Arabic Radio (39). He writes how Al-Jazeera set new standards of freedom for all other Arab news media (44). And he writes: “No Arab satellite TV network other than Al-Jazeera has ever attempted to present Arab views, opinions, and beliefs to the West with such vigor and legitimacy” (44). They write that it can be argued that Al-Jazeera united Arabs for first time behind one issue (57). As helping to unite dialogue into a public sphere, Al-Jazeera has pushed for the representation of civil rights and liberty issues such as that of women, who use it to exercise their right to seek and receive information and ideas (59). They write how free access to a channel like AlJazeera will foster democracy in the Middle East (200). I say that without it serving as a public sphere of communication and unity, this cannot happen. They write that it has unified Arabs and has become the “pan-Arab transnational channel”(202), especially because the reporters, talk show hosts and anchors are from all over the Arab world. They write that bin Laden chose Al-Jazeera because “it is the most influential and popular Arabic-language news medium broadcasting predominantly to Arab audiences” (204). Rinnawi writes that the rise of informational identities has reinvigorated a sense of common destiny among Arabs (xvii). He writes (10) how Arabs assumed that transnational media world “shatter all of the existing ideologies, axioms and conventions in the political , social and cultural-religious spheres as represented by the traditional elites, transferred by the manipulative efforts of the rival mass media found in each 27
state”, as per Karam 1999. My opinion is that it can plant the seed for this and definitely make Arabs open to dialogue, which is the first step for progress, and does not necessarily mean throwing away all traditional ideas. He writes that the media “redirects and directs new forms of Arab regional identity, particularly Al-Jazeera, through open discussion and debates and investigative journalism and news (190). It serves to equalize rural, illiterate, poor Arabs with other Arabs, and serves as a communal act since many Arabs listen to Arab news together (4). This engenders more idea interchange. He talks about how satellite television gave a new arena for actors to compete (83). It is my belief that this healthy competition in itself spurs talk and adds to the formation of an Arab public sphere. He writes (97) that Al-Jazeera has won the hearts and minds of millions of viewers, in spite of its objectors, and is a “critical Arab transactional channel” with impact and importance to its Arab audiences. He writes (103) that it is not force like that of the US or propaganda like that of US news sources it the Arab world like Radio Sawa, al-Hurra will not win Arab opinion in the Arab street, as Al-Jazeera will. He writes (115) how Al-Jazeera wrote more about pressing Arab issues such as Palestine than other statecontrolled news sources, such as some in Jordan. Al-Jazeera has contributed to the erosion of state barriers to news (127), changing popular broadcasting styles, introducing taboo social and political topics, changing the nature of audience participation, and providing access to politically and socially marginalized groups. He writes that with television (151), populations are being constructing a national public space that addresses people of all genders and ages and economic background, and is binding populations into regional audiences. It is no doubt that Al-Jazeera plays a role in this. He writes (148-149) that Arab transnational television has led to a new regional identity of McArabism and to
the eroding of sovereignty, a regional information marketplace, in spite of state cosmetic makeovers and entertainment program stacking. Lynch writes (11) that topics such as concern for Palestinians or Iraqis lead to an Arab identity fostered by media. The new Arab public (21) includes Al-Jazeera and other Arab media networks where political issues are debated. He writes that sharing public opinions in the Arab and Islamic world lends to the formation of a public sphere there (31). He defines the public sphere (32) as “active arguments before an audience about issues of shared concern”. What make this new are the talk shows which “transform the satellite television stations into a genuinely unprecedented carrier of public argument”. He believes that democracy is not need and that the emergence of a public sphere in the Arab world may be due to lack of democracy in most of it (33) Al-Jazeera’s focus on public debate and its wide reach allowed it to contribute to Arab identity (41), such as one that defended te Iraqi people in the latest war (142) . The new public sphere contributed to a concrete and grounded Arabism (69). The perception of consensus, as per Mutz 1998, inspires Arab players to support ideas that will make them seem like “good Arabs” (72). This may eventually be democratic ideas. He writes that what was discussed in Al-Jazeera talk shows after the fall of Baghdad was “an open and uncensored public discussing arguable representing the purest public sphere in Arab history” (7). Arab leaders like Saddam Hussein have known the importance of the Arab public sphere, and have tried to use it for their benefit (151), by swaying public opinion. In fact, Lynch writes that the Arab public sphere, agitated over the recent Iraqi war, influenced Al-Jazeera’s shows to be more open, unlike the restrained American media, instead of it 29
being an editorial position (197). The programs “offer an unparalleled window into an Arab public opinion in flux”. He wrote that intense internal debates of Al-Jazeera “..are, ironically, powerful evidence of its own existence as a public sphere; self-referential, self-critical, and aware of its role in the Arab political system: (236). He advises the US (250) to enter into the Arab public sphere with reasoned argument rather than force. Miles writes that, in terms of Afghanistan, the US’s mission was “hostage to a maverick Arab news network” (142). He quotes Yosri Fouda, presenter of Al-Jazeera’s investigative news show Top Secret and executive director of its London bureau as saying that Al-Jazeera is a “point of contact” for many people (146). He wits about an Arab poll showing 83% support for the Taliban (160), insinuating that it was largely due to Al-Jazeera’s graphic images galvanizing public opinion. He wrote how at one point Al-Jazeera had about 40 million viewers, more than CNN and more than the Chinese state-controlled television station (218). This makes it a force in the Arab public sphere. Its deployment across Iraq (242) lent its reports a “panoramic effect”. Its wide deployment meant that it cross-checked information with equal skepticism (243). I would say that this most likely led to its wide credibility and influence. I have already noted how he (380) writes how governments such as that of Libya go to Al-Jazeera to announce material because of the network’s credibility, even if they at other times complain about it. He notes Arab-Americans thinking that Al-Jazeera is not just a news network, but a lifeline back home (399). Clearly the public sphere is worldwide thanks to Al-Jazeera. Tatham writes that Al-Jazeera is seen as “an honest conduit of Arab feeling and as such is regarded as balancing the debate” regarding West and East (208). He writes that in 2002 Al-Jazeera’s English-channel Web site received more than 161 million visits, 30
with some 81 million page impressions (210). A news network like this can be seen to inspire an Arab public sphere. Synopsis of Topic III The authors agree that Al-Jazeera is contributing to the formation and galvanizing of an Arab public sphere. Lynch notes that the public sphere also influences Al-Jazeera program direction.
Topic V: Is Al-Jazeera a leading media force in the world?
As can be inferred from other topics, especially one and four, the authors think that Al-Jazeera is an example of a free press of high quality that is a force in this world. El-Nawawy and Iskandar talked about Al-Jazeera’s credibility and reach begin a reason that bin Laden chose to air his videotape with them (152-153). They write (4) that AlJazeera set the standards for freedom for other Arab satellite networks. They write that Al-Jazeera is te most watched Arab satellite network in the world (49), and the most viable network in its region (206). British Prime Minister Blair and other Western and Arab leaders request interviews from Al-Jazeera (156). They point out that some people believe that the network ended the Western monopoly of global dissemination of information (197). They write on the same page that it has scooped the world. Rinnawi writes (88) how the Satellite Channels Coordinating Committee in the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) identified Al-Jazeera as the only satellite channel ready to break with censorship taboos. He writes (94) that its importance lies in 31
its criticizing all Arab states except for Qatar, which is not a controversial, main player. He notes that Al-Jazeera has established a network of reporters from around the world. He praised Al-Jazeera for showing more pertinent news such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, in his comparison of Al-Jazeera and Jordanian television (115-119). Lynch does not write anything other than what has been noted under topics one and four to show that he knows that Al-Jazeera is a credible free press force in the world. Miles writes how Al-Jazeera gained credibility in 1998, covering Iraq rejecting UN weapons inspections, and how a photograph of a cruise missile that hit Baghdad looked like it had come from CNN until one would see the fine print saying “Al-Jazeera”. This speaks to the growing importance of the network. He wrote (102) how Arafat one time reopened the Al-Jazeera offices in Ramallah after listening to an Al-Jazeera manger since not doing so would be “catastrophic” to the Palestinians. He writes (103) about how an Al-Jazeera spokesperson said that he would cover everything, not only what pleases authorities, even if it is dangerous. This shows high journalism ethics. He writes about Al-Jazeera’s chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamir al Thani saying that Al-Jazeera will never change its strategy of reporting its news; “the viewers are the only judge”. He notes (104) that Al-Jazeera had 350 staffers in Doha and 30 international correspondents by 2001. He hinted (123) that Al-Jazeera was an example of free speech: “It is ironic that the puritanical Taliban tolerated Al-Jazeera, but the United States would not”. He points out (137) that networks that had criticized Al-Jazeera used its footage of US strikes on Kabul and the bin Laden video. He implies that the US struck the Kabul Al-Jazeera office (164) because of the influence that Al-Jazeera had in spreading information on Afghanistan. The BBC investigated, and the Pentagon admitted that the strike had been on purpose. He
insinuates that Americans attacked the Iraqi office in Baghdad (265) an knew exactly where they were since a letter with the address warning that there were civilian journalists there was sent to the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in Washington, Victoria Clarke. When an Al-Jazeera official asked why this happened, she only replied that war is tragic and sad (267). He suggests (384) that the Bush administration get Arabic speakers to monitor Al-Jazeera news. He quotes Iraqis as saying about Al-Jazeera (396): “ All the satellite dishes you see around here…they are al glued to Al-Jazeera.”, and “Al-Jazeera is a media revolution in the Arab world. People were just starving for this kind of coverage”. Tatham writes that the arrival of Al-Jazeera, the “pan-Arab TV station” was an “explosion” (84) and was needed in a world dominated by Western and state Arab news sources. As noted before, he writes about how Al-Jazeera was well-respected by Western and Arab news sources at the conference it held to show is new code of ethics (208). Synopsis of Topic Five All authors believe that Al-Jazeera is an important media force in the world.
Topic VI: Is Al-Jazeera contributing to global news flow and to globalization?
El-Nawawy and Iskandar cite Middle East media and political communication professor at American University in Washington , D.C. Edmund Ghareeb as naming AlJazeera and CNN as news networks that span international boundaries and “present in this globabilized world, new access” (148). 33
Rinnawi writes (23) how important it is that media is transnational, including Arab satellite media. He writes about how important getting to satellite Arab media is for many Arabs: some people in Jordan with no money a roof have an antenna (44). He writes about Arab news media being part of globalization (147). He writes about how AlJazeera uses the latest technologies to make its programs available all over the world (133). He writes that the “most important impact of both foreign and regional media on the Arab societies is the degree of exposure it provides to secular, principally European and North American, values, lifestyles and more importantly, patterns of thoughts (139).He writes (141-142) that the building of an information society is crucial in the Arab world and that satellite television and the Internet are crucial in this. Lynch writes (33) how the new Arab media used new technologies to disseminate information globally. He writes how Al-Jazeera’s Web site is one of the most popular ones on the Internet, even though it is in Arabic. Miles writes (36) about how important satellite dishes are: when a Bedouin marries, they are given a satellite dish often, and not jewelry. He cites someone saying that the second infatada is a television war (80), showing he important of technology and the spread of information. He quotes Al-Jazeera’s manager as saying that its audience’s mentality has changed forever (92). That shows the overlying strength of the media. He writes (195) how the information age has rendered censoring irrelevant; Arab countries passed information freely whatever censorship there was. It has already been mentioned that the writes that Al-Jazeera has 40 million viewers at one point, more than CNN. He also writes (218) that viewer in nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where it was banned still thought of Al-Jazeera as my objective than other. This perception of Al34
Jazeera allows it to be a force in binding peoples together. He stresses that Al-Jazeera had correspondents everywhere from the Pentagon to the State Department to the United Nations (226). With all of its services (390) – news, sports, talk shows, a text messaging service, and an Arab and English Web site – it is no wonder that Al-Jazeera is a force of globalization. Tatham writes that in 2002 Al-Jazeera’s English Web site received more than 161 million visits, with about 811 million page impressions. He also writes that it is important to Arab diaspora. It can be implied from his section in topics one, four and five that he believes that Al-Jazeera is an international force in globalization.
Synopsis of Topic VI The authors agree that Al-Jazeera contributes to globalization by furthering the spread of information globally. I am surprised that this important topic was not discussed more. The importance of the information society has been discussed at length since the 1960s, if not earlier, and its presence is felt every day in the Western world through newspapers, television and most recently, and perhaps most importantly the Internet. Conclusion All of the authors seem to have a high regard for Al-Jazeera, and think that it is a credible, important news source that is a major world force. They believe that it is a contributor to the formation of an Arab public sphere and to globalization. They
recognize that its reach is large, it is growing and it is a phenomenon of the past decade. Some authors have concerns on graphic images of dead soldiers or of oversensationalization with no ideas for action. Lynch thinks that beheadings may not be the best topic to show and Miles thinks that showing casualties up close before their families have found out is not a good idea. Lynch has a concern that some of its shows that are sensationalistic do not offer solutions, and Miles is concerned that sometimes the American view is not expressed. But all in all, their assessment of Al-Jazeera is positive.
Iskandar, Adel and El-Nawaway, Mohammed. 2002. Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East Cambridge, Mass.: Perseu Books Group Westview Press.
Marc Lynch .2006. Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Hugh Miles.2005. Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel That Is Challenging the West NewYork, NY: Grove Press.
Khalil Rinnawi. 2006. Instant Nationalism: McArabism, Al-Jazeera and Transnational Media in the Arab World Lanham, Md: University Press of America.
Steve Tatham. 2006. Losing Arab Hearts and Minds: The Coalition, Al-Jazeera and Muslim Public Opinion Rockville Centre, NY: Front Street Press.