Al Jazeera: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

What is Al Jazeera you may ask? 

Al Jazeera Arabic, founded in 1996 is an international news network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It began by airing in-depth and serious news stories, popular sentiments and debate in a way that was unprecedented for many Middle Eastern countries.

Currently there are 65 bureaus across the globe, with the majority rooted in the global south. In 2006, Al Jazeera English joined the network in order to serve the English speaking market, as well as expanding the network’s connection to the global north.

What sets Al Jazeera apart from other major news networks?

Al Jazeera says, its independence from commercial and political pressure is challenging that paradigm of other news networks where there is increasing corporate concentrations of media ownership.

When asked the value of Al Jazeera, Roger Cohen of the New York Times said:

“It’s striving for balanced reporting from a distinct perspective [that] seems genuine.”

According to Al Jazeera English’s Code of Ethics, it promotes “journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity.” This same code of ethics is universal for the Al Jazeera Network.

The Al Jazeera Impact

In 1991, CNN was credited with mobilizing international support behind US forces invading Iraq during the first Gulf War through its live coverage of the conflict from the perspective of Western power centers. The term ‘CNN effect’ was coined and is now being compared to Al Jazeera and its influence on the current conflict in Egypt.

The ‘Al Jazeera effect’ was a term first used to describe its liberating influences on the media in the Arab world.

In terms of Al Jazeera’s most recent impact, just days before riots erupted in Cairo, Al Jazeera published 1600 leaked documents, known as the Palestine Papers. What has become the largest leak of confidential files in the history of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the documents include the most recent decade of negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestine Authority.

This gave a worldwide audience insight in to the behind closed door dealings of these parties. Since then, Al Jazeera has provided non stop coverage of the events in Egypt, despite having its Cairo bureau shut down, its equipment confiscated and its reporters harassed by Egyptian authorities.

The future of Al Jazeera

While the future of Egypt is uncertain, the future seems to be bright for the continually expanding Al Jazeera Network. The insight they are giving the world into Egypt as well as the Middle East as a whole is the first exposure of its kind.

Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English says: “[The goal] is for us to cover exactly what is going on on the ground now and provide the analysis and context, when necessary, when relevant, so that viewers and our audience get the full picture of the story. It is truly objective reporting.”

—If thats not a good goal, what is?

Kristin Dornfeld

This entry was posted in International Press, Law and ethics, Media Credibility, News coverage, Press Freedom. Bookmark the permalink.

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