Al Jazeera and the Qatari Government's Editorial Influence

Friday, January 11, 2013


In December, Al Jazeera Berlin correspondent Aktham Suliman left the news outlet, saying he felt its primary funder, the Qatari government, exerted too much influence over Al Jazeera's coverage. Suliman is just the latest in a string of resignations from Al Jazeera in protest of editorial interference. In an interview from August of last year, Bob talks to blogger and political commentator Sultan Al Qassemi about what he sees as the problems with Al Jazeera's coverage of ongoing fighting in Syria.

Yo La Tengo - I'll Be Around


Sultan Al-Qassemi

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [2]

Bernardo Jurema from Guatemala City

Dear Bob,

I am a big fan of this show, and have been following it for years now. So I was very disappointed with your reporting, if we can call it that, about Al Jazeera's entering into the US market. There was no reporting whatsoever, in fact, just the rerun of a guy who obviously does not like the network. Fair enough, but how about a voice for those who do like it? Instead, just a cold, dull, official statement.
But what really bothered me was the dishonesty. First, it does not require a lot of research to figure out that Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English are two different, editorially independent entities - actually, a simple wiki search will tell you that. In your "reporting" (quote, unquote), neither you nor your totally biased interviewee bother to point that out to the listener. Second dishonesty is to use what is probably the most difficult story to cover today - the internal conflict in Syria - to illustrate a point. You know that journalists are not even allowed to enter the country? Besides, brave journalists, like Al Jazeera English Anita McNaught, did some courageous reporting on the ground in 2012.

The main issues, which OTM kept away from, are the hurdles for AJE to enter the US market, just because the government did not like its reporting. Now, even after members of the current administration have publicly praised AJE's reporting, private companies, such as Time Warner, are still wary of the AJE brand. A second issue of interest, from a media angle, is how AJE's global news coverage and plural debate will be received by the American audience. Is there a suppressed demand in the US for the kind of journalism AJE does?

Unfortunately, these are questions that remain unanswered by OTM. I am still hoping that OTM will do a good story on this subject.

Finally, an advice. Why don't you guys interview Richard Gizbert, the host of AJE's own OTM, the Listening Post? It would be a fantastic conversation.

Keep up the good work, I still love the show, expect when it talks about AJE.

Kind regards,

Bernardo Jurema

Jan. 15 2013 10:35 PM
Thatwood B. Telling from The Village

The tone of Al Jazeera's Aribic language service is quite different to that of its English language coverage, according to bilingual commentators I've heard from on the subject, and it's unfortunate the piece didn't address this.

Jan. 13 2013 09:41 PM

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