Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
Updated 05 April 2018

Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

  • Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996
  • Al Jazeera has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists, says academic

Dubai: Al Jazeera’s “ideological” stance has been a “huge tragedy” for the Arab media industry, which has failed to bring the real Arab perspective to the world stage, a leading academic has said.
Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996, but the Qatar-based network has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists and pursues an “ideological agenda,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
This has caused “tremendous damage” to the media industry as a whole, the academic said on the sidelines of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai.
“In the 1990s when Al Jazeera started, it was one of the most promising media institutions in the Arab world,” Gerges told Arab News.
“Sadly and tragically after 9/11, Al Jazeera became … a mouthpiece of Osama bin Laden.”
The academic said that the TV network had failed to become a credible media institution or source of information.
“Al Jazeera has sacrificed its institutional rubric on the altar of its ideological agenda,” he said. 
“What has happened to Al Jazeera is a huge tragedy for the Arab media … It is no longer seen by large constituencies of the Arab world as a media forum.
“You turn on Al Jazeera because you agree with Al Jazeera. It has become more and more ideologically tilted toward certain perspectives.”
Gerges said that Al Jazeera and other Arab media institutions had failed in their “soft power” push.
“We had thought that Al Jazeera could really be an institution that makes a huge difference to raise public awareness of the Arab world in terms of democracy, information and debate,” he said. 
“Sadly and tragically, particularly in the past 10 years, Al Jazeera has really done tremendous damage.”
The academic had hope, however, that journalists at media organizations across the region could help portray a real view of the Arab world.
“Arab media has failed to develop soft power influences (on) world public opinion … We have failed to put the Arab agendas, the Arab perspectives on the international stage,” he said. 
“Every journalist, every correspondent, every media person must understand that he or she has a moral professional responsibility not to simplify, not to distort, not to exaggerate.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


US FTC finds Cambridge Analytica deceived Facebook users

Updated 06 December 2019

US FTC finds Cambridge Analytica deceived Facebook users

  • US regulators said they had found political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had deceived consumers about the collection of Facebook data
  • They ordered the company to stop making misrepresentations about its privacy protections

WASHINGTON: US regulators said they had found political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had deceived consumers about the collection of Facebook data .
The Federal Trade Commission, in a statement announcing its findings, said it had also ordered the company “to continue to apply privacy shield protections to personal information it collected while participating” in EU-US Privacy Shield program.