Sunday, November 15, 2009

Al-Jazeera as International Actor

Powers and Gilboa, authors of this week’s reading on the public diplomacy of Al-Jazeera, provide a comprehensive overview and understanding of the multi-leveled dynamics of Al-Jazeera, namely its role as a political actor with a specific political agenda. This article’s discussion regarding the internal and external roles of Al-Jazeera is insightful, and I found it interesting when the author’s discussed America’s tendency to ignore the internal role (discussing taboos and criticizing Arab regimes), and to focus on criticizing Arab and Muslim perspectives.

In addition to presenting insightful information, the authors encouraged me to question the meanings and uses of “democracy.” The authors argue that Al-Jazeera uses a democratic platform to project information and motives, most notably as a forum for intellects to speak freely. Although the communications approach is perhaps democratic, many Arab regimes that are represented are not democracies, thus I sensed a conflict of interests regarding the democratic politics of Al-Jazeera.

After reading this article, I did notice a similarity between Al-Jazeera and US media corporations. The authors argue that Al-Jazeera tries to portray itself as objective and non-biased, in order to have a relationship with Western nations. Yet, the media simultaneously aims to appeal to a target audience, which may support biased view points. I don’t find this synopsis of Al-Jazeera’s media intentions much different from American motivations, as our media is undoubtedly infused with biased politics, encouraging viewers to select the media output that is congruent with their beliefs.

This reading offered a broad analysis of Al-Jazeera, covering the most current and contentious issues surrounding the firm, including its reputation as a non state actor able to influence actions and opinions. The author’s encouraged me to watch Al-Jazeera and discover for myself its political agenda and influential politics.

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