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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Al Jazeera Hits the News

We have long been a fan of Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera has annoyed the Americans and the Brits in the past, so much so that it was rumoured that the two allies were thinking of bombing their strongest Arab allies' news channel.

Screen shot of Al JAzeera You Tube

However, the fact that Al Jazeera has been thrown out of almost every country in the Gulf (Israel, surprisingly, is one of the few that has not expelled them at some point or other,) and that they have received threatening mail from Al Qaeda suggests that they have annoyed almost everyone at some point or other.

Which is what a good news channel should do.

Al Jazeera does something that has not been done by a news channel before. It gives the Arab people a voice. And recently it has hit the news itself for its reporting of the harrowing conflict in Gaza, with feature articles in the International Herald Tribune amongst others.

It has done so not only for its reporting of the news, but for the way it is reporting it.

One of Al Jazeera's problems is not getting the news - it has 6 reporters in Gaza, and is the only major network represented there - but getting it out to an international English audience.

For while their Arabic audience is huge, in America their audience is tiny - and at times deliberately blocked.

As a result the channel has turned to social networking to get their results across.

Internet users can follow Al Jazeera's updates on Twitter, and their You Tube channel has received over two and a half million views.

Their viral efforts may have been helped by the fact that they have a Qatar blogger, Mohammed Nanabhay, co-leading a digital leap team.

It may well take a blogger to understand the communicative and viral potential of the internet.

And with six out of ten youngsters in America now getting their news from the internet, that potential is huge.

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