The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

When Lee Smith talks about Al-Jazeera

A few weeks ago Lee Smith and Michael Young laid their smackdowns on Al-Jazeera for supposedly not covering the Syrian unrest with as much vigor as Egypt etc. Their reason was that Syria was in the resistance camp and so was Jazeera therefore….

Both apparently were unaware of what some analysts for some time have been describing as the Saudi-Qatari rapprochment on Jazeera AND policy in the gulf etc…. and both are apparently unaware of the substantive shifts within Jazeera…. and both are unaware of how vigorously Jazeera is being attacked by the syrian regime for its reporting.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi below has a great report which underlines why, so often with both authors, you have to take their facts and recounting of history with a grain or two of salt and instead read, and enjoy or not, their content as polemics and good fun!

From today’s Daily Briefing:

On April 25, the Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report: “Tunisian journalist Ghassan Bin Jiddu’s resignation from Al-Jazeera satellite channel raised numerous reactions inside and outside the institution, due to his successful show “Open Dialogue” which he hosted every Saturday, his management of the channel’s office in Beirut where he provided an exceptional coverage and analysis of the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, in addition to his professional handling of the Lebanese internal developments. What was noticeable was that the resignation was one of protest, just like those of his former colleagues such as Hafez al-Mirazi (the director of the Washington office), Yosri Fouda (the host of Highly Confidential show), Abdul-Aziz Abdul Ghani (the director of the Cairo office), Youssef al-Sharif (the director of the Istanbul office), Akram Khazam (the director of the Moscow office) and anchorwomen Joumana Nammour, Louna al-Shebl and Lina Zahreddin…

“It is worth mentioning that around four months ago, Al-Jazeera channel had taken off the air all the television shows that had secured its fame, such as the Opposite Direction hosted by Faisal al-Qassem, Without Borders hosted by Ahmad Mansour, The Shari’a and Life hosted by Sheikh Al-Qardawi, From Washington hosted by Abdul Rahim Fakara and In Depth hosted by Ali al-Zhafiri. These shows had massively contributed to the fame of Al-Jazeera channel, owing to their wide popularity among the viewers. The channel’s general director, Mr. Waddah Khanfar, stated that these shows were primarily discontinued due to the eruption of the Arab popular revolutions and the coverage of their developments round the clock, a thing which prompted the channel to give priority to the news coverage at the expense of the weekly shows. However, the criticisms did not stop at the level of the channel’s professionalism and objectivity, as they also affected the guests participating in its coverage.

“Indeed, the Qatari Al-Arab daily carried a report yesterday featuring the opinions of many Qatari intellectuals who wondered why they were excluded from the channel and why their expertise was not used to comment on the events, especially since many among them were extremely aware of the situation and carried high degrees. The channel’s administration had excluded many neutral experts, and settled for a very limited number of political activists, especially in the ranks of the opposition… And while the journalists who had previously resigned from Al-Jazeera have joined or are about to join Egyptian and international channels (Khazam joined Al-Hurra and Al-Sharif joined Al-Arabiya), it is not yet known where Mr. Bin Jiddu’s destination will be. In this context, Al-Quds al-Arabi’s correspondent in Beirut, colleague Sa’d Elias, contacted Mr. Bin Jiddu to inquire about this issue among others.

“However, he apologized very politely – as usual – and said he did not wish to talk about that because he was currently discussing the arrangements with Al-Jazeera channel, promising to meet this request at a later stage. In the meantime, Al-Quds al-Arabi learned that colleague Bin Jiddu had received many offers to found a new news satellite channel similar to Al-Jazeera, and that one of the offers – or rather the most likely one – was currently being discussed. According to a source very close to Bin Jiddu, a “reasonable” budget was allocated to fund a “different” channel that would respect the “Arab principles.” On the other hand, and according to a media observer in Doha, Al-Jazeera channel is entering a completely different phase. The observer added to Al-Quds al-Arabi there seemed to be an attempt not only to “change its skin,” but also to change its entire previous method by gradually introducing new blood and relinquishing most of the old faces.

“The same source continued to Al-Quds al-Arabi that the channel’s administration wished to annul the “star” host or anchorperson phenomenon, and replace the latter with new people who would only read the news and ask the questions set by the producer of the newscast. This would explain the flow of new young faces of anchormen and anchorwomen, with a few limited exceptions.”

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Posted in TRANSLATIONS

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