Final Newstrack: Closing Thoughts on Al Jazeera

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Through my semester of reading and exploring Al Jazeera, I got a closer look into what kind of news organization they are and what perspectives they bring to the table. They are a very unique website that doesn’t have a large following domestically, but do have a great following internationally. Here are some takeaways and things I learned about the global news giant:

  1. Al Jazeera’s Goals:

Al Jazeera outlines their detailed and fulfilling mission statement on their site and emphasize, “giving a voice to the voiceless”, and to show the diversity of the world by expanding on global media. They definitely serve their purpose well and hold up the standards they set for themselves. As I read the intimate and emotional stories that Al Jazeera covered, such as stories on Syrian refugees or the impoverished communities in Africa, the stories contain a personal touch that evoke emotion from readers, by presenting harsh realities that many of us are unfamiliar with.

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2. Global Footprint:

International news networks strive to have outlets and subsidiaries in as many areas of the world as possible, and Al Jazeera succeeds in that department more than most. With many news branches such as: Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera Balkans, and Al Jazeera Arabic, they cover a wide array of areas that provide perspectives into those communities. Having reporters and “boots on the ground” to directly cover every area is a strong advantage to have and allows for accurate information to be provided to readers. I compare it to major businesses that have aspirations and goals to expand their company overseas to widen their impact. Al Jazeera does that and as a result, has created a global brand that is followed all over the world, increasing its impact.

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3. Methods to the Madness:

Given that this is a multimedia focused class, it’s important to note that Al Jazeera uses a wide variety of methods to cover stories in a more interactive and entertaining way. They use effective techniques consisting of: photo stories, short video documentaries, interactive timelines, and personal stories. These days, folks are looking for more than just straight news stories, they’re looking for stories with emotional stories, especially pertaining to serious and political news. Al Jazeera covers those desires and shares stories from people who usually do not have a voice, again fulfilling their mission statement. For example, as I covered previously in one of my blog posts, Al Jazeera created an interactive story on how mothers in Bolivia live in respects to motherhood and child rearing. The powerful photos and little stories included in the feature were very personal and detailed, which makes readers feel as if they are there listening to the mothers stories in person. This focus on evoking emotion with their stories really makes Al Jazeera stand out.

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4. Closing Thoughts:

Personally, I hadn’t ever really explored Al Jazeera prior to taking this class. My news consumption mainly consists of reading and perusing through CNN, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and ESPN. However, with my new found knowledge of Al Jazeera, I might plan on incorporating them into my cycle of news media outlets to look out for. They are a great source to go to if you are interested in learning more about what’s going on internationally, whether on a massive global or smaller more personal touch. Hearing and reading stories you won’t normally see on CNN, is a nice change of pace that broadens your horizons.

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How does Al Jazeera cover Breaking News?

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Breaking News is one of the most important aspects in the world of Journalism, especially today considering how fast news can get around via social media. Al Jazeera uses social media as a big part of their breaking news coverage. With utilization of their multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook alerts, they strive to inform the public with Breaking News in a quick and timely manner.

An example of this would be their coverage of the Russian Metro bombings in St. Petersburg this past weekend. When news of the bombing emerged, Al Jazeera tweeted out a “BREAKING NEWS” picture along with a tweet linking to the news story of the bombings on their website:

As news concerning the bombings unfolded and more information was released, Al Jazeera tweeted out several updates to keep their followers and readers informed of what was going on:

Again, to reiterate, as more information was released by Russian officials and authorities, Al Jazeera tweeted out detailed updates on what new information had come in. Using Twitter as the “Main” Breaking News tool is what many organizations in the media do because of its simplicity and immediate effect of getting news out to the public.

What’s interesting to look at is the image that Al Jazeera uses in their “BREAKING NEWS” tweets. They use the same image with white lettering and a red background, with their company logo in Arabic lettering next to the phrase. The usage of a red background and white lettering is smart because it catches the eye of readers much more efficiently than other colors. Red stands out and with big white lettering, people are more likely to click on the article and read it.

While Al Jazeera isn’t as followed or well-known in the United States as it is in other parts of the globe, they still manage to utilize their social media tools in order to deliver news fast to the US on their Al Jazeera English Twitter account. Skillfully designing their banner to seem more interesting to the eye is a successful technique that garners clicks into their news article.

Al Jazeera’s Alternate Storytelling Methods

As a news organization that focuses on issues in the Middle East and World affairs, Al Jazeera uses several different methods of storytelling. They have a podcast and audio station that followers can tune into on their website, with pages on iTunes to follow the podcast. However, the really interesting storytelling method that they use is something called “Interactive Documentaries”.

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These interactive stories involve writing, video, pictures, and interactive animations that involve readers exploring the story. For example, a story on the media and how we can read it strategically, is presented with very little writing and more videos to engage their viewers efficiently. These days, especially with the younger generation, people tend to lose focus with long drawn out papers and react better to videos.

Another example is their story on mothers in Bolivia and what their roles are in everyday life. In the interactive story, you can click on different symbols on objects within the picture and there is information/video on whatever subject you click on. The story is designed with animation in order to seem more attractive to the general reader.

Overall, I’ve encountered these kinds of stories on sports websites like BleacherReport and ESPN, as well as big news organizations like CNN. I always enjoy these interactive types of stories and find them more interesting to go through as opposed to just reading an article. The interactive aspect involves readers directly into the story which has a great and more positive impact in terms of what they read.

Al Jazeera Media Story

Mothers and Children in Bolivia

 

NewsTrack #4: Al Jazeera’s stance on Fake News

“Fake News” is one of the most controversial phrases used in the political & news world today. It’s a phrase that has become one of President Donald Trump’s favorites and he uses it as an attack, or defense, however you view it, against the mainstream media that criticizes him on a daily basis.

By definition, fake news can be described as the deliberate spreading of false information with the intent of misleading people for a specific reason, in this case it is politics. President Trump has railed on publications such as: The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, BBC, and almost all other major mainstream news outlets for fabricating stories to tarnish his stances or image. Through press conferences and his Twitter account, Trump takes a hard stance against the media and claims they are an enemy to the American public.

Interestingly enough, Donald Trump hasn’t mentioned Al Jazeera as a “Fake News” organization. In fact, I don’t think he’s mentioned them even once. Al Jazeera is a news outlet that covers affairs around the globe and given that many of Trump’s campaign stances targeted the Middle East, Al Jazeera has spent a lot of time covering and talking about what the current President has said.

Al Jazeera thinks Trump’s rhetoric against the media echoes sentiments similar to authoritarian leaders from the past. However, they haven’t gone as far as some other news organizations have when criticizing and analyzing Trump’s attack against the media:

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It’s clear that Al Jazeera isn’t one of the news organizations that Trump considers “Fake News” but much of that is probably due to the fact that they haven’t criticized him to the level of many other mainstream media outlets. Being an Arabic founded news organization, if Trump’s policies and stances start directly affecting the middle eastern part of the world, Al Jazeera might come out in a stronger stance against the President’s actions and sentiments.

As for whether I personally think the media attacks Trump too much, I do think that mainstream organziations do show their bias by sometimes taking too strong of a stance on a topic. However, I find it hard to label reputable and successful news media like CNN or NBC as “Fake News” just because Trump doesn’t agree with what they’ve written. Yes, there are some culprits who intentionally stretch and fabricate stories for political motivations but you can’t cut down the whole tree just because a few apples are rotten. I think Trump has a legitimate case against the media and their sometimes biased reporting but the street goes two ways and not everything can be blamed on journalists.

Link:

Al Jazeera on Fake News

 

 

NewsTrack #3: Al Jazeera Photography

One of the strengths of Al Jazeera as a news organization is their great use of pictures. Their photographers provide powerful images from around the globe to really make an emotional impact on readers. On their site, there is a section called “In Pictures” where they post articles and emphasize the usage of photography and images to entice readers to click on the stories:

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Directly at the top of the right corner, there are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram icons that when clicked on, they take readers to Al Jazeera’s pages on those respective cites. This is a good strategy to direct more readers towards following them on social media given that a large percentage of people get their news through social media websites like Facebook.

Looking at the articles themselves, the high quality pictures really enhance the reading experience of stories on Al Jazeera’s site. Looking through an article on the hardships of living in South Sudan, the images show women and children suffering while living in the poor conditions of the country.

The power of photography is sometimes underrated and underutilized by many news sites as many organizations prefer video over pictures. However, the power and affect that a captivating image can have on readers is something that is unmatched by a video or just an article by itself. As the saying goes, “A picture can speak a thousand words” and Al Jazeera provides great imagery for the readers of its website.

Al Jazeera’s “In Pictures” Section

Al Jazeera’s Super Bowl Coverage (Lack thereof)

This past Sunday night, I, like many other New England Patriots fans, were left in front of their TVs screaming in agony and shortly after, joy once the Patriots came back to win the Super Bowl. For the past week, you couldn’t turn on the TV, go on the internet or your phone without hearing about the Super Bowl matchup between the Pats and Falcons. At least in America that is.

On Al Jazeera’s main website, there was absolutely no news coverage about the game by a single writer. It took me some digging to find content on the site pertaining to the Super Bowl and I found a couple Al Jazeera America videos that talked about the game and the political angle commercials had this year.

If we’re being honest, I didn’t pay attention to one commercial this year because of how upset and angry I was during the first three quarters of the game. However, the video assisted me in looking back at some and talked about the theme of “coming together” in many of the ads. The second video I found was before the game talking about the entire show of the Super Bowl itself. The reporter talked about the Patriots-Falcons game storylines, DeflateGate (witch hunt), hatred of the Patriots, and even tossed in Lady Gaga information for the halftime show.

While pretty much every other American news organization in the country talked about the game, Al Jazeera being an international outlet focused their news and attention on Donald Trump and current affairs. I for sure thought they would take the typical angle of bashing Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft for their alliance with President Trump but that didn’t even happen. Either way, I’ve had a tremendous week filled with happiness and joy from the Super Bowl win that solidified Tom Brady as the best Quarterback of all time.

Super Bowl

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NewsTrack: Al Jazeera’s Mission Statement

Al Jazeera is originally an Arabic news website that has since expanded to cover many areas around the world. It is one of the biggest news organizations in the United States with over 80 outlets of news around the globe. Much like a corporation on Wall Street, Al Jazeera has a mission statement as a news organization and company to help outline its vision on what their goals are.

Vision:

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What Al Jazeera sees themselves as is a global network that can contribute to providing news to people from all walks of life. They especially emphasize Al Jazeera America because since it is an Arabic news site, they have an advantage in providing a unique perspective to the American people on the Middle East.

Mission:

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News sites should aspire to inform, entertain and inspire, which is exactly what Al Jazeera outlines its mission as. Again, due to the fact that they provide unique perspective as initially being an Arabic news outlet, they can share stories people wouldn’t normally read. They also have an advantage in having a diversity relating to demographic of their readers because of the many regions of the globe they cover.

Values:

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Making sure there a sort of “code of ethics” is very vital to making sure you are doing the right thing as a news organization. The public loves to criticize the media for not telling the truth and Al Jazeera makes sure to state that they strive to be truthful to the public. Providing a balanced, informed and unique perspective while remaining true to their goals is very important for them.

Al Jazeera’s Mission Statement Page:

http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/vision-mission-values.html