Even though Al Jazeera English's coverage of the Middle Eastern protests has reaped deserved praise, the media company has yet to parlay recent acclaim into a spot on more U.S. televisions. But its not without lack of effort. AJE recently launched "Demand Al Jazeera" meetups fueled by social media, bought full page newspaper ads touting the network and is now reportedly in meetings with U.S. providers. "Clearly the demand is there for Al Jazeera and people want to see us on their screens," stated Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, in a release (via Journalism.co.uk).
As part of the company's media tour, Abderrahim Foukara (Washington bureau chief for the Al Jazeera Arabic channel), spoke with Time magazine about the company's notion of journalistic objectivity and how it would be different from its American competitors:
On a broader scale, what would al-Jazeera English have to offer over its American competitors?
At a time when many U.S. news outlets are feeling strapped for cash and cutting down on foreign coverage, you have this channel which continues to invest in its international reporting. Not just in Egypt and the Middle East, but in Latin America, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South Asia. Not only are all these parts of the world very important in their own right, but it's also very important for Americans to know what goes on there. 9/11 showed us one thing: that a story you consider foreign and far away all of a sudden [can become] local.
How does that lens compare to the idea much vaunted in the U.S. 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.