tv Inside Story LINKTV November 2, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT
uncompromising journalism with a bold goal to be the voice of the voiceless. what does the future hold for al jazeera and journalism? how the media landscape has changed. this is inside story. anchor: hello, welcome to the program. it was established 25 years ago to give a voice to the voiceless around the world. adrian: we have questioned
leaders, angered politicians and tackled topics often seen as taboo. we were the first news story -- news channel in the arab world has come with many risks. dangers come from having to close our offices in high-risk regions to even being palmed. 11 employees have been killed while reporting facts on the ground. many journalists have been detained and tortured. the organization that began in 1996 is an arab language news channel has never stop growing. the acting director general for al jazeera reflects on the history and place among the world's media. >> the goal was to create a channel and media center that would be more like the bbc. that was the model at the time. a media that is free,
independent, brave, brings the truth to the people. to the people in the middle east. at that time, mediate was under the control of the government all over. in many ways, it is still that way. it serves to be a mouthpiece of the government. people actually lost every faith in that kind of media. they -- we want to create a content, present content to the audience that will bring faith to media. that is what happened to bring knowledge to the people, true information. and with the hope that it would create a new media culture. adrian: we take a look at the history of the media network. reporter: at the time of its
launch in 1996, al jazeera was seen as a drop in a media ocean, dominated by mostly western news channels and outlets. 25 years later, that has caused ripples the world over, forcing a tsunami of change around the globe. before our launch, the arab world enjoyed little if any media freedom. citizens from iraq and beyond were told what to think through state owned channels that focused on glorifying their leaders while ignoring the concerns of ordinary people. when the channel began broadcasting under the slogans of the opinion and the other opinion and the voice of the voiceless, it earned the respect and recognition of millions and the viewership rocketed. while most outlets were embedded with american and british forces during the occupation of iraq, al jazeera reported untold stories of the untold cost of the human war.
as it had done before in afghanistan. this came at a heavy price. al jazeera journalists were injured, arrested and even killed. among them, they were killed by u.s. air strike from the capital of baghdad. in illegally occupied palestine, al jazeera has always been present. we broadcast the daily struggles of palestinians living under israel, correcting a narrative seldom told by that set of the story. from the attacked gaza street -- gaza strip, the network has reported the story from all sides and angles. again, this resulted in its offices in gaza being bombed. this time, by the israeli army live on tv. in early 2011, our motto of being the voice of the voiceless crystallized after arab capital after another erupted in anger
and millions of people took to the streets, demanding freedom, justice and a better life. al jazeera was on the ground, reporting live while local, regional and some international channels failed to acknowledge the historic protest that became known as the arab spring. all the while, they remained loyal to its other motto, giving airtime to everyone, including the regimes cracking down on the wrong people. in 2017, and -- a testament out influential al jazeera became, a blockade was launched. they insisted the channel must be shut down for the blockade to be lifted. a demand rejected by qatar's leader whose country hosts the network. >> we will not shut down al jazeera. reporter: the country's ruler sticking to the commitment that his father made when the channel was launched in 1996. >> rest assured, your freedom will not be restricted.
it will be a platform for every opinion. reporter: what started as an airbag global -- leg was channel become a global media network. in good several websites and a plethora of digital platforms. all have cemented themselves as leaders in their field. all of them seeking the human story and striving to speak truth to power. one quarter of a century has passed and what was once described by former egyptian dictator as a tiny matchbox is now a global media empire. the flame continues to burn as a beacon of free press in a region that has never needed it more. adrian: let us bring in our guests. joining us from doha. they are a political cartoonist, focusing on the arab spring and freedom of expression.
we are also joined by a journalist and board member of the international press institute. and scott lucas is in birmingham they are a put goal analyst and emeritus professor at the university of birmingham. welcome to all of you. i will begin this discussion with the kind of question i would normally reserve for the end of inside story. while i do not want it to be entirely self congratulatory, it is our 25th anniversary. i would like to know from each eu. what does al jazeera mean to you personally? why has it become important to you and what impact has it had on people and society where you are from? >> a few years before al jazeera was created in 1996, i was struck by another cable outlet, cnn whose motto at the time of the iraq war was we keep america on top of the world.
i have worked with cnn, have a great deal of respect for the bbc. by and large, the international media world for many people was of a prism seen through prisms, u.s. and u.k. outlets. or possibly european outlets. that creation of al jazeera, first in arabic and then in english, opened up the media space. it opened it in part in your introduction because arab communities, where was their voice out to the world? where was their voice about their own communities? but then also, the notion of al jazeera arabic and reporting from the ground up that you did not have to think of africa or middle east or latin america first and foremost as a playground of washington or any of these places. that was important. that isn't to say that your best efforts, has always given a voice to the voiceless. it has had that intent since the
1990's. just to have that goal, especially because the 21st century world, as we are seeing today the issues of climate change, those conflicts are becoming more damaging. we need more and more voices which simply are recognizing the human cost as well as a human aspirations rather than representing one country or state's point of adrian: view. adrian: what -- adrian: what impact has it had on journalism in the middle east and north africa? are people more informed? as more of them saw to emulate al jazeera's journalism over the past 25 years? >> in 1995, i gave a lecture that arab television news does not have the idea of live studio interviews. they basically appoint an anchor who is loyal to the government and they can control what they
asked but they cannot control what the answer is from a guest. when al jazeera came, that whole idea of not having i've interviews was thrown out the basket. even state-run television knows they cannot work unless they have live interviews. that was the technical side but it actually showed how much open space al jazeera provided. what i liked most about al jazeera is not only the fact that it provides opinions from both sides of a particular issue but it provides pictures and video pictures of all sides. i know that when there were attacks in north palestine or south lebanon or when in gaza, you have like four or five live feeds. some from gaza some from gaza and israel. some from eight demonstration in nazareth or tel aviv. all at the same time, no satellite station has ever done that. especially when it has to do
with arabs or the palestinians. and now incident. you open up al jazeera and you have like five different feeds. all live. no matter what you think of al jazeera or the editorial line, you get live feeds from the ground of what people are saying and doing. what does it look like on the ground? i think that is the most important power. the resources that al jazeera has and the way they use their resources with all sides to a particular story is just amazing. adrian: what impact hasn't had on society in the middle east and north africa? to what extent has it been a catalyst for change? with those changes have happened if al jazeera had not been in existence? >> for me personally, i see al jazeera as some sort of catalyst for me as well. i, as a political cartoonist just starting to understand what
politics is and coming in s a young son of an economical refugee here in doha where we are working and of course, we were interested in the news but he always laughed at the 9:00 news. it was a small segment we had at the end of the day. it was praising the great leader and all that. whether it is incident or elsewhere. when al jazeera came. everybody was in their chairs waiting. they were waiting for what the next thing would would happen. for the first time, we actually had a conversation. we actually heard from different sides. we exit heard from sides we never heard of before. that created a lot of conversation which was needed and is still needed until today. i remember going to sedan in 1997. as a family and going everywhere in al jazeera was on every tv.
you go to the barbershop. the restaurant. everybody was just listening to al jazeera because this is where a conversation happen. it is the only place where a conversation happens. it is in all of these highlights of my life and the life of my generation, you see al jazeera. you see 9/11. i still remember sitting in a dorm room in my university and everybody is screaming to get it on tv. this is what everyone was looking for at that time. of course, it became also a catalyst for other people for competition to start which is very important as well. i think the world would have been very different without the network. even for me, my work became having news from our side and this is what they started to do as well. giving the news from our side.
for the first time ever, it is not a westerner telling the story of what is happening in palestine or sudan or elsewhere. it is someone from there, telling the world what is going on from our point of view. from what we see and what we feel. adrian: many people outside the middle east and north africa will have no idea that al jazeera is this huge media network with a whole range of different television and internet services. how important do you think the addition of the english language channel and website was to the network and the impact globally? >> it was important for the channel but more important for those of us who wanted news and information. i can remember in 2003, at the time of the iraq war that at that point, it was primarily al jazeera arabic.
i think the english channel had just started the site which came under attack. we didn't have english television at that point but at least we heard these reports coming out of the arabic world, even if we couldn't speak it. he saw the images. it brought that war to us. albeit, through our outlets who said look at what we got from al jazeera. i can recall in 2008, two very different stories that taught me why the english network was so important. on the upside, as it were during the is really on gaza at the end of that year, cnn could not report from gaza city. it could not report on the human cost. the bbc was coming out of jerusalem. al jazeera english, who i think were the only two english language correspondents bringing out the essential news of what was happening during that six week conflict.
at the same time, i was actually seeing this in atlanta, georgia visiting my parents. as i got news from al jazeera's website, my sister charged in and said turn that off. that is a website that is terrorists. the fbi will raid the house. even then, even after the channel had established itself and became important, that misconception of what it was in the u.s., the idea that it was the enemy. you still had to fight against that when you said look, they were not the enemy. they are what we need in this world. adrian: al jazeera is funded by the qatar government as a private entity with public benefit. there is a legal separation between state and broadcast. it is editorially independent and yet, often accused of being the out piece of the government. do you think viewers and users of its digital services realize
that? do you think they realize it is different to other broadcasters in the region? does it matter to them? >> for small, to operate in a worldwide satellite, you need a lot of resources. no matter who the source of the resources, there is always a problem. i think in the qatar case, there were two advantages they had. first is the fact that as you said, there was a strong attempt to separate the funders from the editorial policy. it worked most of the time but not all the time. it was better than all the state run media. the second p part was that qatar is a small country in the arab world. there was not that much that the qatar news happened. in fact, when they had their conflict, that is when the editorial independence of qatar was challenged and tested. it did not do very well but still, on almost all other news,
qatar was fine. they covered all points of view. saddam hussein point of view and opposition. even the moroccan kings position and the opposition and so forth. of the 300 30 million arabs, qatar really is not that much of a story. in that sense, it was very helpful that they did not have to worry about their own situation. on the palestine issue, they were great. syria, they were fine. many countries they covered were fine. i would argue that in the arab spring, the media was strong that it actually was ahead of the public. what we saw was the local leaders were not able to organize fast enough to take over power. he had not had those problems you've seen in other countries. they could not govern as
quickly. the media was way ahead of them. adrian: 100 nationalities are represented in our diverse newsrooms. how important is that diversity in the coverage of events? if it was staffed by people purely from the middle east and north africa, there would be a different tone of voice. >> definitely. for me, it is definitely the diversity that brings in different voices, stories, and interests. if the journalist is looking for a story locally, it brings out what the society is talking about. a lot of times, i get a call i also pitch stories.
it is very important. you get everybody from cnn staff and bbc staff there that is amazing. they will further their expertise as well. adrian: by getting all sides of the story and diverse these -- have these diverse points of view, we were the first arab broadcasters to bring this perspective to the arab world. how important was this 25 years ago? why does that mission to strive for truth, honestly, of allowing viewers and readers to make up their own minds? why is that still controversial today? >> in any issue of international conflict, there is more than one
side to the story. for cicely, when you talk about israel and palestine or you talk about the u.s. versus china or even russia versus a lot of other folks, there is a tendency to go into camps. my side right, your side wrong. al jazeera english, arabic even though not as much in certain cases, they strove to present more than one side of the point of view about these conflicts. they do so today, i think whether it is talking about ethiopia for example or talking about the multisided issue we are seeing in sudan. in other words, they are covering multiple sides of conflicts that often don't have a single side that breakthrough internationally. having said that not having to spoil your party, there are challenges to keep that going. the first is that issue of resource. it is to have that capacity to tell multiple sides of the story.
al jazeera had problems trying to launch a channel in the u.s.. that society is a very difficult media market right now. it strives for that. the reason i think that is important is that if others look at al jazeera bush and arabic and said that is a model to reach lots of people. they did it not to present all sides of the story. when the russians did it with rt, they wanted to show a single common side of the story. china with cg tv has dented it to present beijing's side of the story. there are certain u.s. outlets only present one side of the story. not only internationally but also from within the u.s.. that challenge to continue to give voice not just to the voiceless but to all of the voiceless, not just some. that is the challenge to continue. adrian: we are short on time.
give me a brief answer. our acting director general says there is much to be done. what do you think the challenges for al jazeera for the next 25 years? >> for sure, there is a lot to be done. the world needs to hear different points of view. they need to infer that not only television but for others doing a fabulous job. what needs to be done is you need to understand the young people and the new technology think developed as we speak in how to kind of stay in front of the new technology. it's not about geography. it is about technology. >> yes, absolutely. that is what is ruling the world right now. it is also independency.
the more they present themselves as an independent entity and pushes for more media freedoms, a lot of activists and what happened during the arab spring. what happened during the support showing both sides of the story. this continues, especially now with the policies of what is happening now in the region. it is a huge challenge to show what -- that al jazeera is an independent channel. adrian: we must end our discussion. many thanks for being with us on this 25th anniversary. i really appreciate it. thank you to, you can see the program again any time by visiting the website. that is al jazeera.com. for further discussion, joining -- join our facebook page. you can join the conversation on twitter.
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