Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Al-Jazeera in English

Media theorists of the future will look back on the early history of Al-Jazeera with relish - imagine the exam questions in 2025: examine the effects of pan-Arabic television news networks on Islamic society in the early twenty first century?

The fact is, Al-Jazeera has changed the media field. No longer can Arabic/Islamic caricatures in Western media go by unchallenged. The Arab world found a voice, and an angle of interpretation, that makes sense from their cultural perspectives. The long-delayed launch of Al-Jazeera in English merely extends that contestive reach. Its effects on Islamism will be interesting to see: will it take the steam out of wahabism by presenting a moderate mediagenic line, or will its focus on Arab/Islamic suffering and injustice in English further fan the flames (to second/third generation English-first-language Arabs?)

Africa needs something similar to Al-Jazeera, to represent an African perspective on the world. When will it come?


Anonymous,  11:35 pm  

You honestly think Al-Jazeera is challenging a caricature? Au contraire, I believe they're underscoring it.

You'll be long dead before a pan-African news network surfaces, old boy.

St Antonym 11:57 pm  

On the contrary, Shango.

Watch Al-Jazeera. Watch "Control Room." Then get back to me. They are as nuanced and as careful as many American networks, and nowhere near as bad as the worst.

In fact, they're best compared to the BBC World Service.

Of course, what ignorant Americans think of them is quite another matter...

Anonymous,  6:34 am  

Presentation at Al-Jazeera will not to be too different from Western media, but content might be slightly different. On their first day, they had stuff from Darfur, and from Zimbabwe - both no-go areas for BBC and CNN (by choice and design). The Harare piece wasn't super-critical, but they're won't be toeing any lines. They've pledged do a lot of reporting from the developing world, which is where the BBCs, Skys, and CNNs will miss out. In the Middle East, the Western news channels will become 2nd choice.

The problem for the other networks wishing to compete with al-Jazeera will probably them becoming the Chelsea of 24hr news, ie having a bottomless pocket of Qatari oil money. It isn't always that Western news stations don't want to send people to certain places, they'd just rather save the money. The others might be forced to try and gain that kind of reach. BBC on Al-Jazeera, Indy.

Fred, there've been attempts at a pan-African news channel. Give it time...

Anonymous,  8:37 am  

You think the epitome of news reporting is the BBC World Service, do you? Teehee... Silly rabbit.

Akin 9:29 am  


If you currently have a better alternative to BBC World Service as the epitome of global news reporting, share with us.

Abdurahman Warsame 11:08 am  

Great post, there is also a video of the first couple of minutes of the broadcast on

Anonymous,  4:25 pm  

@Akin: Channel 4 in Miami.

Through these eyes 5:06 pm  

I totally agree with you Jeremy, we should have an international avenue that tells the rest of the world who we really are as a people, so they don't depend on CNN and BBC.

St Antonym 11:20 pm  

"You think the epitome of news reporting is the BBC World Service, do you?"

Lord no.

All I said was that Al-Jazeera's English service is more in that mode than they are Al-Qaeda's mouthpiece.

Note also that I said they are as "nuanced and careful as many American networks."

You should recognize faint praise when you see it.


Anonymous,  2:17 pm  

antonym: one of my shortcomings is that I don't understand nuance, subtlety, cleverness, wit, and most certainly not anything "faint".

I like my shortcomings. :-)


Anonymous,  4:00 pm  

yea@ fred that prove you are a real american
i bet you dont get that either

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