Media channel Al Jazeera has an unprecedented chance to increase its psychological impact on Americans, if it doesn’t appear to be just another partisan outlet, but that chance may be floundering. In 2011 Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al Jazeera Network, left the channel after having built it up to represent an independent and fairly objective news resource in the Middle East. He was replaced by Qatari royal family member Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani, an engineer specializing in gas and oil projects, as the royal family owns the channel which has resulted in further internal changes. This article in Germany’s Der Spiegel captures some of those issues and the hemorrhaging of talent while also keeping in mind that Al Jazeera is about to gain a foothold in America through its recent purchase of Current TV (Kühn, Reuter, & Schmitz, 2013).
Never before has another countries’ attempts at statecraft and influence had such an opportunity to communicate with Americans through media in their own homes. Even Britain’s BBC Network has found that challenging. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the station a huge plug when she stated that the United States was losing the international information war. Al Jazeera, she said, was “literally changing people’s minds and attitudes” and, like it or hate it, “it is really effective … In fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news” (Gornall, 2011).
Gornall, J. (2011, June 24). Arab Spring Brings Al Jazeera to Full Bloom. Retrieved Jan 12, 2013, from The National: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/arab-spring-brings-al-jazeera-to-full-bloom
Kühn, A., Reuter, C., & Schmitz, G. P. (2013, Feb 15). After the Arab Spring: Al-Jazeera Losing Battle for Independence. Retrieved Feb 16, 2013, from Spiegel Online: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/al-jazeera-criticized-for-lack-of-independence-after-arab-spring-a-883343.html#ref=rss