“The Voice of the Voiceless” : News production and journalistic practice at Al Jazeera English

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Socialantropologiska institutionen



This thesis explores how the cultural and social media environments surrounding the journalism of Al Jazeera English are shaped by and shape the channel’s news practices. Al Jazeera English has been described as a contra-flow news organization in the global media landscape and this thesis discusses the different reasons why the channel is described in this way by looking at its origins, aims, characteristics and ideals. Based on interviews with Al Jazeera English journalists, news observations and two field observations in London, I argue that Al Jazeera English brings cultural and social sensitivity to its news reports by engaging with multiple in-depth perspectives, using local reporters and integrating citizen generated material. The channel’s early adoption of online technologies and citizen journalism also contributes to a more democratic news direction and gives the channel a wider spectrum of opinions and perspectives to choose between. By applying a comparative analysis built on similar studies within anthropology of news journalism differences and similarities within the journalistic practices can be detected, comparing Al Jazeera English’s journalism with journalism at other places and news organizations. These comparisons and discussions enables new understandings for how news is produced and negotiated within the global media landscape, and this gives the global citizen an improved comprehension of why the news, which shapes our appreciation of the world, looks like it does. In conclusion, this awareness opens up for a discussion towards a societal transformation that gives space for a more multifaceted journalism distancing itself from one-sided perspectives and institutional censoring.

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