Although Al Jazeera English has yet to receive to receive the attention accorded to its Arabic-language elder sibling, it is in many ways the more interesting of the two. It seeks to redefine global news coverage by focusing on areas that are traditionally neglected by most news organizations, and its potential audience is many times larger than that of the Arabic channel. This will be the first book to thoroughly examine this channel's coverage methods, effects on its audience, and its place in the world of mediated geopolitics.Al Jazeera recognized that if it was to expand its worldwide influence, it could not do so wholly in Arabic. And so, in 2006, it launched Al Jazeera English, the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. With its principal broadcast centers in Doha, Washington, London, and Kuala Lumpur, the channel faced the task of proving itself to be more than a curiosity and just a junior version of the all-news English-language channels such as the BBC or CNN. After several years of operation, Al Jazeera English seems well on its way to defining its place in the market.
The breadth of its coverage, particularly its emphasis on reporting from the global South, has distinguished it from many of its competitors. Thorough coverage from the Middle East and from Africa provides a perspective that other major satellite channels have rarely offered their audiences. Initially, Al Jazeera English was available to 80 million cable and satellite households. It was, however, accessible by only a small number of viewers in the United States (mainly those accessing it through several online providers) primarily because of political reasons. Whatever the political back-story may be, gaining access to a larger global market will depend on audience demand. If Al Jazeera English does a better job of covering major stories, particularly in the Middle East and the global South, than other channels do, and if its competitors find themselves saying, "As Al Jazeera English reported today ...," news consumers will eventually demand access. This book will examine these political issues and will also analyze the channel's audience base, particularly in Africa and South Asia.
The book will also offer evaluations of Al Jazeera English's defining moments to date - its reporting during the 2008-2009 war in Gaza (written by Palestinian and Israeli scholars), and its coverage of the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy in 2010. The volume will also consider Al Jazeera English in the context of public diplomacy and the growing significance of diasporic populations.