Since the rise of the internet media outlets have expanded globally creating several political, legal and economic restraints on journalists and the media in general. Technological adaptions have enabled individuals and organisations to broadcast local events across the world while having the ability to learn and witness international affairs (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 63).
Al-Jazeera English (AJE) was created in 2006 in order to establish a voice for those who are often voiceless. It is the first English based news channel formed within the Middle East. Its purpose and identity within journalism stands above the typical missions of journalists and revolves around producing integral material (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 62). Figenschou (2010, p. 85) highlights that AJE is continually known for “challenging major western international news channels and an alternative contra-flow in global news”. Journalism has now become an information war with a variety of outlets producing several objective and subjective pieces based on global conflict. But major media organisations still remain dictated by political propaganda, where the wealthiest often control how media is consumed (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 64).
This has led to skepticism towards whether the audience is being informed by the news or rather the news is reinforcing the preceding attitudes and opinions that are dictating society (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 64). Journalism is run on spectacles that create an emotional connection with the audience therefore the media is more inclined to produce pieces revolving around war rather than peace and heroism because of the tedious debates and lack of drama involved (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, pp. 64-65).
It is evident that media broadcasters are now targeting certain segments of the population, which was made clear during the build-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, where western civilisation relied on national security to reinforce the reasons behind the invasion, as opposed to the Arab media which focused on western domination and expansion (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 65).
‘Conciliatory media’ is now a prominent concept that is used to meet a certain criteria based on social importance. This media excludes itself from the typical style of broadcasting war. It has been proven that society relies on the media to gain information on global events, and by enforcing conciliatory media it breaks down stereotypes found within broadcasting and inspires the audience to have an open mind (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 69). Al-Jazeera English is based on this concept. AJE is the first news channel to be highly-funded and accessible, focusing on providing balance within international media (Figenschou 2010, p. 86). They gather stories that are often overlooked producing a thorough analysis of the story while challenging and debating current views, instead of focusing on the areas that are most entertaining for the public (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 72).
Clearly the way media is produced and consumed needs to be monitored in order to establish a diverse range of public opinion. AJE is slowly breaking down these barriers and presenting an alternative from stereotypical news which often revolves around wealthy influence. By AJE providing a voice to the voiceless they have informed society about areas across the globe that are often neglected or belittled by international media, breaking down the barriers that have frequently dictated mainstream broadcasting.
el-Nawawy, M & Powers, S 2010, ‘A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven environment?’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 61-84.
Figenschou, T 2010, ‘A voice for the voiceless? A quantitative content analysis of Al-Jazeera English’s flagship news’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, pp. 85-107.