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News Question about Al Jazeera (English live stream)

  1. Aug 29, 2011 #1

    phinds

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    I very recently started watching Al Jazeera's live English language news feed and I have now been shocked twice.

    The following is based on a relatively small amount of information/evidence and that is the reason for the question at the end of this.

    First, I was absolutely amazed to find that the program seems to be as even-handed as the BBC in its reporting. I had expected something from mild to rabid Israel bashing and just didn't see it. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the reporting on all things Middle East so about a week ago I took to watching it a fair amount, probably even more than I check news on the BBC since I can't get the BBC live feed.

    THEN, a couple of days ago I noticed a side-bar on some additional written material so I decided to check that out and that's when I got my second shock. I found that the written material was exactly what I had expected the whole channel to be ... rabid hatred of Israel. It seems to have been produced by a completely different organization than the one that produces the on-air news feed (and in fact, it may be).

    SO ... my question is can anyone here who has a more long-term experience with Al Jazeera comment on my impressions? Specifically, have I found an UNrepresentative situation on either the live feed or the written material due to such a small amount of experience with it, or does my initial impression about how it is with each seem to you to be an accurate reflection of the channel in over the long haul?

    Thanks
     
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  3. Aug 29, 2011 #2

    Evo

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    It could be the difference in reporting actual news and a personal opinion piece.

    I haven't noticed problems with their news reporting, but I rely on the BBC for world news, so I haven't watched much Al Jazeera.
     
  4. Aug 29, 2011 #3
    I haven't noticed an anti-israel bias, though I'm anti-Israel myself, so maybe I'm just blind to any subtle bias.
     
  5. Aug 29, 2011 #4

    Bobbywhy

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    I am an American and have been reading Al Jazeera's English news website for approximately two years. I find its reporting usually quite honest and well-balanced. In fact, as for the Middle East, (where I have lived for seven years) it often gives a more accurate picture of events than any other news source. Of course there are opinion pieces, and some pretty far out, but Al Jazeera clearly marks Opinion from News. I follow BBC, Reuters, and several more hoping for an accurate picture. I consider Al Jazeera an essential ingredient for part of the total coverage of news. Also, reading its editorials and opinion pieces gives us a viewpoint not found anywhere else. It is up to you to gather news from a variety of sources, sum them together with your values, and then decide what to believe.
     
  6. Aug 29, 2011 #5
    They used to be more mainstream when they were emerging. But (I think), something happened in Washington that prevented that.
     
  7. Aug 29, 2011 #6

    phinds

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    DOH !!! I think that may well be what I've overlooked. I was possible reading opinion pieces and taking them to be news reporting.

    I would love to the the BBC live feed but I get the message "not available in your area" (which is the US) --- I guess that's reasonable. The people of England pay for this and I would be hogging some of their bandwidth that I haven't paid for.
     
  8. Aug 29, 2011 #7

    phinds

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    Very glad to hear it. That was my impression.

    Well, that's a charitable way of putting it.

    Agreed. As I said in the post directly above, I think my mistake might have been reading opinion pieces and thinking that they were pretending to be straight reporting.
     
  9. Aug 29, 2011 #8

    phinds

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    Actually, I had heard the opposite of that. What I had heard was that when they started, there was a bias in the news reporting but when they opened the English language version, they made a strong effort to do away with that.

    I HAVE heard, but have no evidence, that the Arab language broadcasts are quite different in tone than the English language ones and DO exhibit a bias --- not an unreasonable thing to do since they are pandering to their base in the Arab world in this case vs wanting to sound reasonable to English-language countries so as to make money in the English-speaking world.

    EDIT: Actually, I stated the above paragraph poorly. If I'm going to call one thing pandering to the Arab world, I should also have called the other pandering to the English speaking world. Again, not unreasonable since it is a for-profit organization.

    Was it at one time subsidized by one of the Arab governments? I seem to remember reading that as well.
     
  10. Aug 29, 2011 #9

    BobG

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    This isn't so shocking if you know the history of Al Jazeera. The origin of Al Jazeera is the BBC. When they cut back on their staff in the Middle East, Al Jazeera stood up as a news organization and hired most of the BBC staff that had been cut.

    They have a very good history prior to 9/11, reporting on Middle East issues ignored by the rest of the world (they were essentially the only news organization reporting on events in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion for example). They still have a good history of news reporting, but broadcasting things such as bin Laden's statements and some other items unfavorable to the US has put them in an unfavorable light among the American mainstream.

    The have more independence than any other news organization in the Middle East (with other Middle East news organizations mostly being government owned/controlled) and really do serve the interest of Middle East viewers.
     
  11. Aug 29, 2011 #10

    lisab

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    I, too, read http://english.aljazeera.net/" for much the same reasons as you do. And I agree, I don't notice much of a slant in the "hard news" stories, but the opinion pieces certainly have a different perspective from what you'll find in much of the western press.

    But AJE covers many, many stories that simply can't be found in other places. For example, they haven't let go of the events in Syria - it frequently makes the top of the news. But in much of the western press, coverage is spotty at best.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  12. Aug 29, 2011 #11

    Pengwuino

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    I haven't been too up on the news lately but in my opinion, you could slap the BBC or ... hmm, I seem to be trying to think of a fairly factual news organization from the US and am drawing a blank. Anyhow, you could slap the BBC symbol on everything I've seen off Al Jazeera and I wouldn't know the difference.
     
  13. Aug 30, 2011 #12

    phinds

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    Yes, that's been my opinion as well, which is why my first shock was one of delight but the second was one of dismay.
     
  14. Aug 30, 2011 #13

    Evo

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    Thanks rootX.

    Well, let's go back to the thread topic then, is Al Jezeera America tv news reliable, I'd say yes.
     
  15. Aug 30, 2011 #14

    phinds

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    Yep, seems to be, although I'd be more comfortable with them if their opinion pieces were not so biased.

    I watch MSNBC and FOX and I DO find Al Jazeera TV to be more even-handed than either of them.
     
  16. Aug 31, 2011 #15

    BobG

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    That's not hard to do. You almost have to put on some mental armor to protect yourself before watching either of those two channels (except for Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough - I like both of those shows).
     
  17. Aug 31, 2011 #16

    cobalt124

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    Thats my impression too, though until I read this post I had never read the AJE website. Had a quick glance and it looks like a reliable, objective source. Years back BBC Radio News started quoting Al Jazeera as a reliable source, like they would Reuters, for instance. They don't ssem to now, possibly because of events mentioned in this thread. Will definitiely be taking a regular look to see if my initial thoughts pan out.
     
  18. Aug 31, 2011 #17

    Evo

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    This thread keeps getting hijacked, so it is closed.
     
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