Since its birth as an independent TV station and new agency in 1996, Al-Jazeera has been viewed as a controversial, influential free-speaking news agency. A news agency uninfluenced by corporations, governments and so on. But why is Al-Jazeera so controversial? And is it really that different from BBC, CNN and other news agencies?
Al-Jazeera was launched November 1st 1996, in Doha, Qatar, which still contains the headquarters. Its birth followed the closing of BBCs Arabic TV station. So in truth, it was made almost as a replacement and not a competitor to BBC. Even though that is how many views it today, a different prospective. But is Al-Jazeera really that different from the BBC and other news agencies? When we look at the stories and material they publish we can see that it is not that different. Their websites features the same stories. So why is Al-Jazeera considered so controversial? In my own opinion the reason it is viewed as controversial maybe that it comes from a part of the world where a free speaking news agency is rare to come by. We clearly appreciate a “free press” news agency from the Middle East, and especially one that is also available in English.
Considering the fact that Al-Jazeera receive funding and is owned by powerful people with big money, or even governments, it would be naïve to think that Al-Jazeera would remain uninfluenced by these forces. The Al-Jazeera satellite channel is actually owned by the state of Qatar. How can it be unaffected by that? And considering the chairman of Al-Jazeera the enterprise, Sheikh Hamad bin Thamir Al Thani also is the former Deputy Minister of Qatar we cannot say that Al-Jazeera is a news agency without government ties. But a large news agency like Al-Jazeera need government ties to be able to report the news accurately in some areas. So that can work both ways.
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