Al-Jazeera launches


by Sunny
14th November, 2006 at 5:31 am    

… tomorrow I believe. Yesterday the Media Guardian had a story on the new English edition of the channel.

Originally due on air in late 2005, then spring of this year, then September, the long-delayed 24-hour global channel, providing news with a Middle Eastern perspective will at last start on Wednesday. Ask any of those dashing around its impressive hi-tech newsroom – all open plan studios and glass offices – and they will tell you the delay was all about technical hitches.

The channel is planning to off er high definition pictures and will broadcast from one of four studios throughout the day, following the sun to deliver the news in turn from Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London and Washington. Much of the global news battle is about sheer size and heft, and al-Jazeera International (AJI) will not go short as it goes head to head with CNN and the BBC. It has 18 bureaux around the world, 60 when taken together with the Arabic channels’ offices, and 500 staff of its own.

The other “negative stuff ‘ – the perception that al-Jazeera is a mouthpiece for terrorists, the baseless rumour that it broadcast beheadings – is already dissipating and will drift away as the scales drop from western eyes, Phillips confidently predicts. [Rageh] Omaar is more forthright. “I get very annoyed and frustrated. I have worked a lot with al-Jazeera journalists across the world. Every single assertion is based on hearsay and is totally devoid of fact. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Arabic channel and I think their journalism is excellent,” he says, pointing out that it gets just as much flak from Middle Eastern regimes as the west.

I have in the past said Al-Jaz is like Fox News. On reflection it may be more like CNN; sticking to the values of its main viewer base but taking a degree of flak from all sides.

I don’t feel the urge to do what many people sick of the BBC or CNN do however: hail it as a new media saviour that will ‘tell the truth’. It will simply show a different side to the same story which will probably be as biased as CNN. If there was a way to juxtapose both channels together it would probably be the most balanced.
More media fragmentation / choice… better or worse?


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  1. El Cid — on 14th November, 2006 at 9:05 am  

    Too early to judge.
    But in the long-term it’s surely for the greater good. The acid test for me is the extent to which there are female presenters, female guests, etc. Who knows, with a tv in every arab home, they could push the boundaries not just in relatively enlightened places like Lebanon but in the darkest depths of wahhabi Saudi too.

  2. rabi — on 14th November, 2006 at 9:55 am  

    it is a fantastic one

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 14th November, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    I’m really rather disappointed by this I can tell you. There I was, trying to romance a lady, pretending I was down with my John Coltrane and my Egberto Gismonti, impressing her so much she felt compelled to sidle up to me and beg me the whisper to put some on. So imagine the change in mood when I tuned into the All Jazz Era station only to suddenly behead for touching my pork.

    I swear that’s how it happened

  4. soru — on 14th November, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    On reflection it may be more like CNN

    It depends on what you mean by ‘al jazeera’. The thing that a lto of people miss is that the english language content on their website is, mostly, not a translation from the arabic, or the product of their reporting, but just repeats of reuters or PA stuff.

    For example, look at these two stories:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/11/wsaturn11.xml

    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D955448B-D14F-4BED-A5E1-09E8E42AA028.htm

    You can tell they are light rewordings of the same agency report or NASA press release, sometimes including identical phrases like ‘Michael Flasar, an astrophysicist involved in the mission at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre’. It’s not a translation into arabic and back again to english.

    They used to have a website that hosted english translations of their arabic content, which was very interesting, but I don’t think that exists any more.

    If you want to see what al jazeera is actually saying, to make a judgement of where they fit on the ‘BBC to Fox’ and beyond spectrum, you pretty much have to be able to speak arabic.

    How much the new english language channel will change this I don’t know, but I think it would be as misleading to expect the english and arabic channels to be equivalent, simply because they are owned by the same company, as it would be to expect the Times to feature page 3 girls.

  5. Neil — on 14th November, 2006 at 9:50 pm  

    What channel will it be on?

  6. Nyrone — on 14th November, 2006 at 10:52 pm  

    UK: Digital satellite (514)

  7. sabinaahmed — on 16th November, 2006 at 7:09 pm  

    Aljazera got its fame by showing the “un-showable”footage of the dead, the devastation and the beheadings. At the moment the worldis at peace(well relatively,thank God), the crunch will come if something bad happens then probably they will show what other channels will not.
    At the moment it is the only news/current affairs channel with lots of Asian journalists. I found the contents quite grim,with the interview with a Palestinian ambulance driver,with huge amount of blood on the streets which was being washed.

  8. Nyrone — on 17th November, 2006 at 12:50 am  

    Grim…just like the true reality of what happens globally.

  9. Refresh — on 17th November, 2006 at 1:32 am  

    A news channel which has been a target for Rumsfeld’s bombs has definitely got something to tell us about reality.

  10. Refresh — on 17th November, 2006 at 10:50 pm  

    Anyone know how to receive Aljazeera Internatioanl?

    Having been a avid Newsnight watcher – I think I am ready to move on to serious coverage of international affairs.

  11. rockmother — on 19th November, 2006 at 8:45 am  

    I’m really excited about Al Jazeera. It’s a shame that they are well-known only for the fact that they have previously broadcast beheadings which is actually untrue.

    Yes – perhaps Al-jazeera will end up being sucked into the ‘format’ over ‘content’ machine like many other news channels but I am interested to see how their ‘style’ and viewpoint develop.

  12. Expat Teacher — on 19th November, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    Here in the US, no cable outlet will carry Al-Jazeera. You can only access it online and via one of the 2 major dish networks (for an added cost).

    That’s a real shame. Choice and multiple viewpoints is better in helping people get their head around a rapidly shrinking and conflicting world.

    Economics talks over here. If Al-Jazeera gets the numbers, it will appear everywhere. If it doesn’t, it will whither and die (unless Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar keeps subsidizing them)

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