Al-Jazeera, the Quatar funded Arabic news channel, may have seen its efforts to gain a foothold in the U.S. partially undone due to an interview by their Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara’s interview with TIME. During the interview, Foukara was asked about Al-Jazeera’s point of view and how that fits in to what TIME referred to as the U.S. idea of journalistic objectivity.
To be honest, I don’t know what objective journalism means. The environment in which you broadcast obviously colors your coverage. If you are an American network broadcasting from the U.S., you will be broadcasting with a sensibility which may not look necessarily objective to an audience in another part of the world. And the same is true if you’re a network like Al Jazeera Arabic, broadcasting out of the Middle East. But we have to go beyond that. We should agree on the necessity to provide information in a timely manner. We cannot live in a world where a story like Egypt — which has consequences for the whole world — is unfolding and your audience doesn’t know anything about it or enough about it.
At least in the U.S. the mainstream press feigns objectivity.
The lack of objectivity from Al Jazeera was most recently evidenced by the channel’s lack of coverage of the recent brutal sexual assault of CBS reporter Lara Logan last week. As AIM’s Cliff Kincaid pointed out the Washington Post’s Dan Carpenter called Al-Jazeera’s silence “deafening” especially after all the coverage they devoted to the Egyptian uprising. While Al-Jazeera said that they were only respecting Logan’s privacy that didn’t jive with the fact that CBS News had widely distributed a photo of Logan taken just before the attack and had itself promoted the coverage of the event. It’s more likely is that reporting on the Logan attack would stick a pin the story that the uprising was all about an oppressive government and more freedom than turning Egypt into a radical Muslim country that would no longer ally itself with the U.S. or Israel.
Kincaid also noted that Al-Jazeera’s mantra is “The heart of the story. Every Angle. Every Side,” but that apparently didn’t apply in the Logan matter.
Al-Jazeera is currently in talks with Comcast, and I hope the cable giant will take a close look at the channel’s lack of objectivity before they decide whether or not to add them to their lineup but I won’t bet on it.