Table of Contents
Al Jazeera Arabic was launched in the year 1996 and regarded today as the forerunner when it comes to independent news channels in the Arab world. The network largely focuses attention on providing the target audiences with comprehensive news and live debates on various issues as they unfold in the Arab world and the global arena respectively. Further, the intention of the network is to provide audiences with an alternative news channel that addresses various topical issues affecting not only the Arab world, but also other regions across the globe. Globally, the network has put in place over 70 bureaus with intention to deliver content that not only informs, but also captivates and entertain the target audiences across the globe (Al Jazeera). On another note, Al Jazeera is recognized as the first Arab TV station to break away from the culture of not criticizing the Arab regimes in the larger Middle East region. As a result, more viewers in the region have continued to relate with the news channel that appears to go against the narrative of pro-government propaganda. However, despite its popularity in the Middle East, Al Jazeera has also witnessed its fair share of controversy emanating particularly from the West where it has been accused in the past of sympathizing with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda (King and Mohomed 33).
The ownership of Al Jazeera Arabic and how it affects delivery
Al Jazeera, also termed as the Island is based in Qatari and owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, and the headquarters of the news channel is based in Doha, Qatar. As the parent company, Al Jazeera Media Network controls both the original Arabic and the English Channel, in addition to its offshoots in America and the Balkan. The funding for the media channel emanates from Qatar’s ruling royal family. While the royal family finances the media channel they are not involved directly in influencing Al Jazeera’s content or coverage. However, the critics of the media station claim that it was purposely established to advance propaganda that serves the interests of the Qatari monarchy (King and Mohamed 40).
While the media channel can be categorized as corporate that is privately owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, its backing by the ruling royal family connotes a significant interest by the state on the affairs of the media station. However, while the station may argue that it operates independently from the influence of its royal backers, it is a challenging process to overcome the notion that the channel’s role also involves advancing the interests of the Qatari government within the Middle East region and the global platform respectively(Mohamed 10). Conversely, where Al Jazeera has continued to stand out compared to other Arabic media channels within the region is that it plays a critical role in exposing rogue regimes. The media channel from time to time breaks from the tradition of presenting a tone that is supportive of the incumbent governments. As a volatile region, the role of the media in the Middle East is vital in terms of raising pertinent issues that affect the populous. In essence, bringing such issues into the international platform is critical in ensuring that global actors play an active role in improving the stability of the region. Many conflicts have occurred in the Middle East region; however, since the advent of Al Jazeera, the international community is increasingly becoming aware of the political dynamics and the conflicts affecting the region (Mohamed 8).
Since its inception, the media channel has been transparent in terms of its coverage of news emanating from the region and other parts of the global respectively. While initially, international media channels such as the CNN and BBC played an important role in broadcasting news from the Middle East region to the global arena, the lack of an alternative news channel from the Middle East region contributed to the notion that foreign media channels only served the interest of the Western powers. As such, the introduction of Al Jazeera into the international media arena is providing an alternative mouthpiece for the Arab world and influencing the need for broadcasting news in a more objective manner that does not fuel skepticism from viewers both in the region and other parts of the globe. To this end, while the delivery of news by Al Jazeera appears to embrace transparency and objectivity in broadcasting news to the Arab world and other countries across the globe, the influence of its royal backers cannot be overlooked in terms of gagging certain forms of information or news that the rulling elite do not want to be brought to the attention of the public in general (Mohamed 10).
How Al Jazeera shows loyalty
Compared to other Arabic media channels in the larger Middle East region, Al Jazeera has proved from time to time to the best alternative media platform in advancing the interests of the Arab world in the global platform. For instance, Al Jazeera has been in the forefront in fueling the debate regarding the Palestinian question in the global arena. Further, due to the volatile nature of the region and the increase in anti-American undertone, Al Jazeera has played a critical role in leading the debate on many fronts that include the conflicts in most regions across the Arab world, the foreign policy adopted by Western powers when addressing the issues afflicting the Middle East region and the problem of global terrorism (Lynch 38).
While most Arabic media channels are notorious in mystifying some of the pertinent issues unfolding in their respective countries due to fear of reprisal from the incumbent regimes, Al Jazeera has been above reproach in terms of exposing the undertakings of rogue Arab regimes, which in turn, has significantly drawn the attention of the international community to take action as evident with the Syria’s civil war. Over the years since its inception, Al Jazeera has also continued to highlight the plight of the oppressed in the greater Middle East and other regions across the globe. Such a focus has provided the network with a public image centered on serving the people rather than the interests of corporation entities and the elite in the society. In Palestine, for instance, Al Jazeera has continued to consistently cover news related to the challenges that Palestinians face on a daily basis (Lynch 41).
Al Jazeera has also continued to raise pertinent issues on how to address the challenges facing the Arab world that more than often have contributed to radical undertones against the West. Such a focus has continued to present Al Jazeera as the mouthpiece of the Arab world in terms of putting pressure on the international community to review their approach in addressing the issues that afflicts the region. In the recent past, while Al Jazeera was accused of sympathizing with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda by Western media outlets particularly the print media, the intention of Al Jazeera was to explore the root cause of radicalization and anti-American rhetoric evident in the Arab world. In spite of such controversy directed at the media channel from the West’s media fraternity, the intention of Al Jazeera has often been to bring into spotlight pertinent issues that are sidelined to ensure the problems affecting the population in the Arab world are addressed amicably (Barkho 7).
In essence, the media channel maintains a focus on reinforcing a philosophy that advances the freedom of speech. As such, it supports the expression of opinions in a manner that is free, encourages debate and accommodates contrary viewpoints. The ultimate goal of the station is to establish a relationship with its target audience in a manner that is proactive in terms of making the audience part and parcel of the news making process. As part of ensuring that it meets the needs of its target audiences across the Arab world and other regions around the world, the station has hired a pool of dedicated journalists with diverse understanding of different regions across the globe to ensure the news they broadcast to the target audiences is accurate, objective and reflects the truth (Powers 5).
On another note, Al Jazeera through its correspondence have in the past brought the world’s attention to wars both in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. An emphasis on exposing conflicts in different regions around the world has ensured that Al Jazeera stays ahead of other international broadcasting stations in terms of exposing the devastating consequences of war such as the Persian Gulf War. In essence, as part of showing loyalty to its target audiences, Al Jazeera continue to focus its attention on providing news feed that accommodates divergent viewpoints while maintaining objectivity, integrity and balance. While skeptics may point out that it might not be possible for the station to adopt a critical reporting of news on Qatar, it is important to note that the broadcasting network has continued to focus its attention on promoting the flow of information in a more open manner that has instigated not only political debate, but also contributed to the rise of the “Arab spring” (Hroub 38).
How Al Jazeera is dealing with legitimate controversy issues
Some of the identifiable ‘legitimate controversy’ issues that Al Jazeera often bring to the spotlight include, for instance, the Palestinian question, the foreign policy adopted by the West when it comes to addressing the issues affecting the Arab world, the growing influence of Iran in the Middle East region, the root cause of global terrorism and the mystified rise of Islamaphobia in the West. The main purpose of the station is to provide news that is balanced and emphasizes objectivity and integrity. As a volatile region, there are various issues that media channels both local and international appear to ignore due to their controversial nature. However, bringing such issues to the public limelight is necessary to influence debate on how to address them appropriately in terms of finding a long lasting solution. For instance, the Palestinian question is an issue that Al Jazeera covers affected from time to time and the foreign policy adopted by the Western powers with regard to the problem Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the same note, Al Jazeera has continued to participate actively in influencing debate on the way forward in addressing the conflict (K. Hroub 253).
Further, the station is also playing a critical role in bringing into the spotlight the power games that are currently emerging in the Middle East region, particularly the growing influence of Iran among the pro-Shiite governments and the influence of Saudi Arabia among the pro-Sunni governments (Nasr 86). On the other hand, the station has been accused from time to time of sympathizing with terrorist groups; however, the main intention of Al Jazeera has been to explore the root cause of radicalization and the mushrooming of terrorist cells, which despite being associated with the foreign policy adopted by the West has continued to be mystified by the Western media. Consequently, Al Jazeera has consistently brought to the world’s attention some of the factors that are leading Muslim youths to terror cells such as al Qaeda and ISIS respectively. In addition, the media channel has also brought into focus the issue of Islamaphobia that is emerging in both Europe and the United States, but overlooked by a significant number other media channels in the international arena (M. Lynch 105).
How Al Jazeera emphasize national identity
As a media station that traces its origin in Qatar and backed by the Qatari rulling royal family, Al Jazeera emphasizes national identity by presenting Qatar in a positive light in the international platform. For instance, the station exercises caution in criticizing its country of origin. From time to time, Al Jazeera as global media channel also engages in promoting not only the culture and traditions of Qataris to the international audience but also presenting the country as an investment destination to attract foreign direct investment (Mohamed 11).
The reaction and feedback of audiences
The audiences especially in the Arab world consider Al Jazeera as the most suitable alternative media channel compared to state-controlled media. Further, viewers also associated the stations actions with the rise of the ‘Arab spring’. In addition, viewers also associate Al Jazeera with objective reporting of current affairs and various issues emanating not only in the Middle East, but also other parts of the globe. The station is also recognized for raising traditional questions that are often sidelined by most of the Arabic media channel in the Middle East region (Seib). However, critics, on the other hand, note that the station is reluctant to engage in a critical reporting of the affairs taking place in Qatar. Similarly, other viewers consider Al Jazeera to be excessively sensational in terms of constantly providing audiences with graphic footage from conflict zones. Conversely, viewers particularly from the West are accusing the station of acting as the ‘mouth piece’ of terrorist groups (El-Nawawy and Adel 115).
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