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Al Jazeera

One of the most controversial news agencies, as of recently, is the Al Jazeera news
company. Privately owned by the royal family of Qatar, whose belief is that information needs
to be accurately disseminated and distributed, this agency reports the truth on all fronts. Due to
Qatars location in the Arab world and the policies that the government rules upon, Al Jazeera
has been critically observed by many Americans since their arrival in the states. As a result of
their hard hitting journalism and tell all attitude toward global issues, Al Jazeera is changing the
way that news is being reported across the globe.
Al Jazeera strives to become the worlds leading and most trusted media network,
reaching different peoples around the world no matter who they are or where they come from.
Believing strongly in the importance of the even distribution of knowledge without a biased
agenda, the news organization aims to deliver captivating content to the world which informs,
inspires and entertains through the rebalancing of global media. Al Jazeera plans to do this by
respecting the humanity and diversity of the world and to give a voice to those whose voices are
not typically heard or represented. For a news agency, this type of mission statement is unheard
of due to most global media being dominated and influenced by the western world and the
governments that control them in order to fit a particular agenda. Not only this, but a significant
amount of media in the middle east is filtered and heavily regulated by the rulers of these small
nations for the purpose of preventing scrutiny from their own people. Through this
understanding and the resources available to them from their beginnings, Al Jazeera found this to
be a vital positioning and broke the mold of media politics.
Al Jazeera is relatively young in terms of news agencies, with their initial debut in

November of 1996. Prior to this date the Arabic news was dominated by the British
Broadcasting Company leaving no room for innovation. Operating under the laws of some
middle eastern countries is no easy task, BBC had countless documentaries blocked under sharia
law which eventually lead to their demise. Once BBCs news station was shut down, the Al
Thani royal family knew it was time to begin their quest towards reporting unbiased news. Al
Jazeera Media Network was at the time only reporting for roughly six hours a day but had large
expectations that they filled quickly. The company completed their first 24 hour news broadcast
on New Years day of 1999. Investors were still not satisfied while only delivering news to the
Arab World, instead they wanted to tell the whole world the Arab News. Expansion to the rest
of the world did take some time though, and the Saudi Arabia based news agency faced severe
backlash in their attempt at globalization. On July 4th of 2005, Al Jazeera had finally
announced their plans to launch an English language satellite company. This was huge for the
company considering they only created an English language website two years prior. Al Jazeera
began reporting in English on November 15th, 2006. Originally programming was handled and
shared by headquarters in Doha, London, Washington D.C. and Kuala Lumpur. Al Jazeera
entered the business of reporting news with a great ideology that has allowed them to accomplish
great things in their almost 20 short years.
Many governments in the Middle East deploy state-run media or government censorship
to impact local media coverage and public opinion, leading to international objections regarding
press freedom and biased media coverage. Consequently, Al Jazeera has become a safe haven
for a significant population of viewers that are accustomed to a constant stream of agenda-based
information. Prior to the launch of Al Jazeera, many Middle Eastern citizens were unable to
watch TV channels other than state-controlled national TV stations. The controversial news

agency introduced a level of freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in many of
these countries. They presented controversial views regarding the governments of many Arab
states in the Persian Gulf area, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar; it also
presented controversial views about Syrias relationship with Lebanon, and the Egyptian
judiciary. Even though Al Jazeera claimed to be the only politically independent television
station in the Middle East, it was not until late 2001 that the organization achieved worldwide
recognition when it broadcast video statements by Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders
as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
But perhaps Al Jazeera has acquired too much of an influential role in Middle Eastern
events. Observers have argued that, because of the news outlets powerful positioning as the
revolutionary Middle Eastern news agency, they have formidable authority as opinion makers.
Columbia Journalism review writers have claimed that the way Al-Jazeera covers any future
Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could potentially determine whether or not the deal is accepted by
the Palestinian public. Al Jazeera is the primary news source for 53.4 percent of Palestinian
viewers. The second and third most watched channels, Palestine TV and Al Arabiya, poll a
distant 12.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The result of Al Jazeera's market dominance is
that it has itself become a mover and shaker in Palestinian politics, helping to craft public
perceptions and influence debate.
Now, Al Jazeera has been able to migrate into the United States through their new
specialty channel: Al Jazeera America. Al Jazeera America is the new American news channel
that reports unbiased, fact-based and in-depth journalism that gets you closer to the people at the
heart of the news. First announced in January of 2013 and launched on August 20th, Al Jazeera
America has one of the largest news gathering capabilities of any news organization in the

United States: with 12 bureaus in major cities around the country, 3 broadcast centers, a
headquarters in New York City and a team of close to 800 journalists and staff.
The move to America was the most troublesome for this company, due to the overall
opinions Americans relate to the Arab World. A large deal was announced early in 2013 stating
that Al Jazeera had acquired the former television station known as Current TV. Many were
surprised the the owner of Current, former Vice President Al Gore would so willingly allow a
Middle-Eastern news agency on American soil. The truth of the matter is that Current TV had
long been suffering from reduced ratings and possible closure, this $500 million deal was a smart
business move but may have hurt Gores political agenda. After countless attempts at blocking
Al Jazeera, the channel Al Jazeera America was launched on August 20th of 2013. Things were
still problematic when the second largest cable company in the United States dropped the station
formerly known as Current TV. Time Warner Cable declared it was due to low ratings during
the Current days but this was surely an attempt at blocking the Qatar based organization from the
American televisions. Luckily for Al Jazeera, Time Warner rethought their initial decision and
agreed to carry their broadcast. Melinda Witmer of Time Warner Cable stated, Now that the
channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it
available. It was projected that once this deal was completed between Al Jazeera and Time
Warner, the channel would be available in about 54 million of the 100 million American homes.
This has given Al Jazeera an enormous advantage and has intimidated the structure of American
global news, or better yet the lackthereof.
Al Jazeera has been a game changer since the late 1990s. Influencing major global
events in the middle east while reporting without bias has allowed Al Jazeera to become one of
the most respected international news agencies today. This is only the beginning for Al Jazeera

as they continue to extend their reach and influence beyond the typical demographics of a
modern news agency. Their mission statement says it all: We are with the people - We tell real


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Journalism Review. N.p., 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.
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The History of the Controversial Middle East News Station Arabic News Satellite
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"Vision, Mission and Values." Vision, Mission and Values. Al Jazeera America, n.d. Web.
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