The Dilemma of Al-Jazeera TV: A Viable Medium or Another “His Master’s Voice”?
Mahmoud M. Galander
Department of Communication,
Faculty of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences
International Islamic University, Malaysia
The paper covers the birth of al-Jazeera and the predicament it finds itself in. It discusses the controversy the news station is surrounded by, including the criticism it is receiving from the international community, due to the method it employs to cover world events, and also, because it chooses to ignore its own local Qatar news. It is trying to establish itself professionally by adopting Western news values, whilst struggling to maintain the traditional ones of the Arab nations. Al-Jazeera has been attacked, mainly by the U.S. government, as being a ‘mouthpiece’ for Usama bin Ladin and accusing it of passing on messages to members of al-Qa’eada. The news station also fuelled further anger due to its coverage of the Iraq war. However, the images it showed, although protested against by the Bush administration, represented honest news-reporting for so many others, causing its audience numbers to soar. Perhaps the American frustration was also partly due to the fact that al-Jazeera refused to follow the dictates of the U.S of how the media coverage should be conducted, and this refusal allowed it to escape being under the control of the U.S. government and it was able to stand as an independent news organisation. Al-Jazeera has not only faced opposition from governments, but also from companies that chose to boycott the station, as well as members of the public, one of whom managed to hack al-Jazeera’s website. Al-Jazeera has faced increasing difficulties during its efforts to continue to convey the story of the ‘other side’ and the truth which is sometimes purposely obscured. The author concludes that al-Jazeera is a station which can give direct information to the Ummah and help to unite the Muslims, whilst still respecting the cultural and societal norms that are prevalent in Muslim nations.