Al Jazeera – driver of revolutions, Islamic propaganda machine, stirrer of the pot, now a namedropper?
The 24 hour news channel has seen an explosion in popularity in the past decade, particularly in the past year and a half due to the so called “Arab Spring”. Notably, at least for me, has been what I call the increased Qatarisation of Al Jazeera, and let me explain…
It is well known that the Qatari government owns Al Jazeera through Qatar Media Corporation, a less intrusive and cosmetically altered branch of the government which took the reigns from the Ministry of Information (abolished in 1995, the year Al Jazeera was born). It is also well known that the tiny state of Qatar has a gargantuan craving for the limelight – from the World Cup in 2022 to it’s hosting of numerous obscure and diverse conferences be they political, economic or private. This intense thirst for recognition and attention seems to have led Qatar down a new, and possibly dangerous path.
It seems that Al Jazeera – a network once so keen to distance itself from it’s owner – has been coerced in some way, shape or form to ‘acknowledge’ the greater role of Qatar, not only in the region, but in the world. Whether this be a naturally occuring coercion or one of a more sinister nature is up to you to decide however, nonetheless, it is now a rarity for one to watch a full hour of news on said network without hearing the words Qatar, Qatari or Doha at least once (and this is not counting the anchorperson’s “live from Doha” routine). At the same time and in the same hour of news some countries with far larger populations – of which there are 148 – are not mentioned at all. I am not for one minute suggesting that population size determines news-worthiness, yet surely Qatar’s importance is over-played, over-emphasised and over-done by the news agency.
As a basic, unscientific, rudimentary quasi-test I decided to search ‘Qatar’ on the website of Al Jazeera International – 598 hits. An identical search for ‘Canada’ – a country with roughly 20 times the population, 873 times the land mass, and most importantly, a country everyone has heard of – received just 434 hits. Take from this what you will, but to me it seems clear that the prominence of the state of Qatar in Al Jazeera news reports seems to be growing by the day. After all, how many times a week does Qatar get mentioned on the likes of BBC, CNN or Sky News? This should worry avid fans of the Qatari-owned news service such as myself, as it quite clearly and blatantly tarnishes the reliability and most importantly the independence of the news reporting on such a service. With Al Jazeera’s prominent, almost commanding role in the downfalls of Arab regimes this calls into question whether the whole thing was just a political ploy?Follow @SimonPapaG