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Al Jazeera

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Matthew Hamilton

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of Al Jazeera

Ready to Launch History Operations Al Jazeera Founded in Qatar
"Al Jazeera" = "The Island"
The Arabian Peninsula Audience & Accessibility Al Jazeera Arabic: 40-50 million viewers in the Arab world
AJE in 260 million homes in 130 countries via cable and satellite
Majority of viewers not in Arab world are satellite viewers in the US BBC's movements in the Middle East
British broadcaster planned on Arabic news channel in Saudi Arabia
Saudi government would not grant editorial freedom
BBC cancels project
Pool of trained employees

Qatari politics
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani
Oil wealth Context Reporting Quality Style Bias? Censorship Networks Al Jazeera Children's Channel Al Jazeera Arabic Al Jazeera English Al Jazeera Documentary Baraem Al Jazeera Sports Al Jazeera Mobasher Founded in 2003
16 networks
Carrier of European soccer leagues to the Middle East
Offers ESPN, NBA TV, and Fox Sports for additional fees Launched in 2005
Live political coverage
Unedited and no commentary
Akin to C-SPAN Launched in 2005
Known as JCC
Provided free to all cable operators in Arab and European countries
Content for ages 13 and younger Launched in 2009
Programming for ages 3 and younger
Joint produced by Al Jazeera and Qatar Foundation for Science, Education and Human Development Launched in 2007
Long-form programming
15% produced in-house
Documentary topics:
Art & culture
Religion Al Jazeera Balkans Launched in Nov. 2011
HQ in Sarajevo
6 hours in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
18 hours of AJE A Constellation of Nov. 2006 launch
Programming follows the sun:
4 hours from Kuala Lumpur
11 hours from Doha
5 hours from London
4 hours from DC Launched in 1996
Flagship news network Qatari royal family subsidized first 5 years with $137 million

In fiscal year 2002, revenues of $8 million with budget of $40 million
Bloomberg Businessweek on Al Jazeera English's launch
No budget caps
No way to collect payments from advertisers
Current annual budget: approx. $100 million

Revenue sources:
Sports networks
Qatari Royal Family
Selling original footage
Al Qaeda tapes
Footage feed Revenue What is Al Jazeera? Originally was a current affairs satellite TV channel in Arabic
Expanded into a network of websites and several specialty TV channels in multiple languages
Print was considered because in the Middle East, print is considered more credible
Today: network of TV networks, websites, apps, think-tanks Web and Mobile Al Jazeera Mobile YouTube AlJazeera.net & AlJazeera.com Offerings Launched on April 16, 2007
The most watched news channel on YouTube
2.5 million views per month with more than 25,000 videos in English Radio Television and web content is repackaged for radio listeners
1 hour newscast available on select Pacifica radio stations and other independent radio stations in the US Related Entities Al Jazeera Centre for Studies Operates as an academic think-tank
Supports and sponsors academic research
Supported research areas:
Gulf Studies
Iranian Studies
Turkish Studies
The Rising Powers (China, Russia, India, and Latin America)
Arab Media Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Centre Launched in 2004
Teaches journalistic practice and ethics primarily in the Middle East
Has partnerships with:
Univ. of Missouri School of Journalism,
Thomson Foundation (UK)
Higher Institute of Journalism (France)
International Centre for the Formulation of Journalists (France)
Trained more than 4,000 media professionals Apps for Smartphones and Tablets
AudioNow: listen to Al Jazeera by dialing a landline
SMS (Text) Alerts:
Text updates in Arabic, English and French
Topics: Politics, Sports, Economics and Breaking News Print, video, photos, podcasts
Streaming broadcast of English and Arabic news
AJE website receives 20 million visits per month, 50% from North America
During Egypt 2011 revolution: 2500% increase in web traffic Staff & Bureaux 3,000 staff members
More than 400 journalists from 60 countries
More than 65 bureaux across the globe
Al Jazeera English: 1,000 staff members of 50 nationalities
Recently: cut/relocated 200 jobs at Al Jazeera English, especially in Washington, D.C., and Kuala Lumpur bueaux Viewership Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network all planned on carrying AJE but reversed decision in 2007
Today, scattered service:
MHz, a non-profit public broadcaster, provides AJE to 35 million households in US
Major US markets with AJE availability: Rhode Island; Burlington, Vermont; Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Washington, DC; New York
Campaign to have viewers call cable provider and request AJ carriage Accessibility Voiceovers > Standups
Emphasis on story, not reporter personality
User-generated footage
Longer format, on-the-ground reporting by journalists originally from a specific region
Ayman Moyheldin in Cairo during Arab Spring
No qualms about images of violence
Images of Qadafi's mauled face
Planned to broadcast Terry Jones' Quran burning in July 2011
Lower third features one headline at a time 'Al Jazeera' makes people uncomfortable
Cable companies say Americans are not interested in international news
Bush administration was hostile to the network Why is Al Jazeera difficult to access? "The opinion, and the opposing opinion" - Al Jazeera motto Al Jazeera is "anti-Western lite" - John Lloyd, Financial Times Al Jazeera's general bias:
Sympathetic to Palestinians
Cynical of Arab regimes with American ties
Less intensive coverage of uprisings in Bahrain
Formerly sympathetic to Assad regime
Delayed coverage of Syrian rebel uprisings
Now (generally) sides with anti-Assad rebels Is Al Jazeera anti-Semitic? First Arab channel to let Israelis speak in Hebrew, English or Arabic
Al Jazeera reporting has helped Israel
In Jenin, spring 2002
AJ journalists proved rumors of Israeli-led massacre were false
Gives more airtime to Israeli issues than any network outside Israel
Al Jazeera replaced BBC World on Israeli satellite package in Jan. 2007 "Until Al Jazeera arrived, most Arabs had never even heard an Israeli's voice" - Hugh Miles, Foreign Policy BUT "Although Westerners think Al Jazeera has a pro-Arab bias, many Arabs believe the opposite" - Hugh Miles, Foreign Policy CNN, ABC, NBC, BBC, Fox, Japan's NHK and Germany's ZDF all use content by Al Jazeera Is the proof in the pudding? Sports: AJ = ESPN? Bloomberg Businessweek reports:
AJ has spent more than $450 million on rights for French soccer leagues
rumored investment in rights to English leagues
Negotiated with Comcast, DISH, and DirecTV for rights to Italian, Spanish and French soccer "Al Jazeera was never launched as a profit center. ...It was launched as a prestige center to put Qatar on the map, which it did.” -Abdallah Schleifer, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. Leadership: Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, Chairman of Directors
Current director: Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim al-Thani
Criticizes Arab regimes:
Televised trial of those accused of plotting against Qatari royal family
Amnesty International representative criticized Qatari leadership on air
Unofficial taboo: gay rights Terrorism Gives airtime to hated political figures/extremists
presents terrorists as political commentators and participants
Sympathetic to Hamas
Aired videos of Al Qaeda post-9/11 Is access a form of endorsement? Editorial History Famous and Infamous 2002 Bahrain bans Al Jazeera from reporting because of alleged Zionist bias 2008-2009 Gaza War/
Operation Cast Lead Only English language network broadcasting inside Gaza and Israel
Source for all other news stations Zionist Bias? 2001-present Afghanistan War Coverage of both NATO and Taliban
Full bureau in Kabul
November 13, 2001: US missile destroyed Al Jazeera’s Kabul bureau 2004 Powerful Enemy? Pres. George W Bush considered bombing Al Jazeera's Doha headquarters during meeting with Tony Blair (reported by Daily Mirror newspaper in Nov 2005) More ESPN, less BBC 200 jobs cut/ relocated at AJE
80% of Kuala Lumpur staff cut
Canceled plans for Swahili network 2012 2011 Arab Spring Coverage Incredible demand for Egypt coverage in US
AJE coverage praised
Ayman Moyheldin rises to prominence, secures NBC deal English versus Arabic 2 different editorial structures, styles
2 different audiences = requirement for context
Aesthetics and language
English has stark aesthetics, Arabic site is more densely laid out
English says "killed" while Arabic says "martyred" At the end of the day, we don’t share the same editorial policies. What we do share is the editorial code of ethics and the same editorial vision as the network. - Ayman Mohyeldin, formerly AJE, now NBC News 2011 The Stream First social media-based TV show
Considered primarily social media community, then TV show
Interviews via Skype, Twitter, live audience Al Jazeera Arabic launches on Nov. 1, 1996 Al Jazeera Geography 101 Setting the news agenda The News, Compared CNN covers this story as an act of heroic American achievement through the language and the anchors' expressions
Al-Jazeera report is more neutral and frames the death in wider issues, like the political problems in Pakistan Death of Osama Bin Laden
more graphic
reporting asking the public what will happen to lose weapons and whether killing Gaddafi was the right thing to do
ABC News:
more optimistic, absolute in judgments
"Tomorrow, Libyans celebrate their independence." Libyan Revolution CNN Al-Jazeera Al-Jazeera ABC News Bahrain Uprising CNN:
more critical of Bahrain's monarchy
Al Jazeera:
dated footage (not effective coverage)
uses phrases like 'restore to order' to describe Saudi troops entering Bahrain
Bahrain is neighbor and in similar position to Qatar
Revolution in Bahrain threatens Qatar's stability and monarchy
Wadah al Khanfar is fired as head of Al Jazeera
Qatari Emir installed a former gas executive from royal family as replacement CNN Al Jazeera What's Next for Al Jazeera? Cuts in news jobs
Installation of Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim al-Thani in Wadah Khanfar's role
Bahrain coverage leans away from neutrality
Sports rights purchasing affirms diminished or stagnant role of news division Has Al Jazeera abandoned task of rivaling CNN & BBC? A Day in the Life... 5 AM: Read news for 1 hour
6 AM: Conference call with AJ Washington, D.C., bureau to discuss new and ongoing stories
7 AM-9AM: Take care of my children!
After 9AM: I generally go to a coffee shop (my bureau is under construction) where I coordinate the various stories I may be working on — I juggle 2-6 at a time Mariam Ahmadi Simpson,
Al Jazeera Los Angeles bureau People who know who we are increasingly appreciate the unique global perspective that AJE provides – and I am constantly surprised by the people who know and follow us, for example I recently interviewed a county sheriff in Wisconsin who claimed to be a fan. I have had a Ground Zero construction worker walk away from an interview when I told him who I work for, but happily that kind of reaction is increasingly rare. -Kristen Saloomey,
Al Jazeera English Correspondent The New York bureau answers to management in Washington, D.C., though ultimately the big decisions about story coverage are made at HQ in Doha. I often contact other bureaus and reporters for their insights into global issues I may be covering at the UN, or to help provide footage from abroad that may be needed for a story I am putting together. -Kristen Saloomey,
Al Jazeera English Correspondent Special thanks to: Mariam Ahmadi Simpson, Al Jazeera Los Angeles Bureau
Randa Eid, Al Jazeera New York
Kristen Saloomey, Al Jazeera New York English and Arabic operate independently. We answer to different managers, who commission different stories. While Arabic and English often share big interviews (recently Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and big stories (exclusives out of Syria, for example), they each typically have their own reporter to cover stories their own way at the UN.
- Kristen Saloomey, Al Jazeera New York Correspondent Early Years and Reception At first only 6 hours per day, then 12, then full 24 hours of on January 1, 1999
Popularity with Arab audiences
went against official narrative
coverage on hot topics in new way, like Israel-Palestine
More popular than rivals at the time: MBC (Saudi Arabia) and ANN (UK)
Full transcript