Coming to America

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Coming to America The Reputation of Al Jazeera English in the United States
Lovler, Ronnie A.
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (106 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.M.C.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Mass Communication
Journalism and Communications
Committee Chair:
Molleda, Juan Carlos
Committee Members:
Roberts, Marilyn
Coffey, Amy Jo
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Depth interviews ( jstor )
Journalism ( jstor )
Launches ( jstor )
News content ( jstor )
News media ( jstor )
Newspapers ( jstor )
Objectivity ( jstor )
Public image management ( jstor )
Public relations ( jstor )
Terrorism ( jstor )
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
al, contextual, international, news, reputation
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.


Al Jazeera English is the Qatar-founded international news network that launched in November 2006 as the first English-language global news channel not based in the West. It came into being ten years after its sister channel, the Arabic language Al Jazeera. The pan-regional Arab-language network has been mired in controversy since its inception because of the way it has covered the news in the Middle East and because of its airing of video from the militant terrorist group Al Qaeda. Much of the world has learned to live with Al Jazeera, both the Arabic-language network and AJE. But the debate over the journalistic tilt of Al Jazeera is still raging in the United States and may be preventing the fledging English-language network from getting on the air in the United States. This thesis explores the reputation management challenges that have confronted Al Jazeera English since it came into being in November 2006, particular within the context of its aspirations as a news organization that presents the news from the perspective of the developing world. The art and science of communications comprise a multifaceted study, even more so when journalism and public relations are simultaneously considered. Yet given the complexities of AJE, clearly, it is more than just another network trying to launch in the United States. It has its roots in the Middle East, but is trying to go global. It has been labeled as ?terrorist.? Reputation management issues tied to public relations concerns are as much a part of its package as the usual journalistic concerns about presentation of the news. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Adviser: Molleda, Juan Carlos.
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by Ronnie A. Lovler

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University of Florida
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Copyright Ronnie A. Lovler. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 2008 Ronnie A. Lovler


3 To my sons, Tiffen and Michael, Thank you for your love, support, and understanding and for always being there.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I especially would like to thank the f ollowi ng people for their suppor t and their guidance in the preparation of this thesis This work would not have been completed without their help and their insights. First and foremost, thanks go to my committee chair, Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda who pointed me in the right dir ection so many times during what seemed to be an interminable process. It is fair to say that without his help, this thesis might still be a work in progress. Thanks also go to my other committee memb ers, Dr. Marilyn Roberts and Dr. Amy Jo Coffey, for their patience and encouragement, as well as to Dr. Jennifer Robinson, for her suggestions. A special thanks to Dr. Coffey for her top-notch edit ing skills. Thanks again to Dr. Molleda and to Dr. Kathleen Kelly for openi ng the door and encouraging me to pursue a masters degree. Thanks go as well to Jody Hedge for holding my hand throughout the process and offering the chocolates that always gave me a boost. Special thanks go to my friends in Gainesv ille who are a part of the academic community at the University of Florida who encouraged me, when I thought I was dreaming the impossible dream. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Ruth Steiner who helped clarify some of the mysteries of research methodology. Thanks also go to Tana Si lva, who reminded me that this year is an auspicious year for me in the Chinese calendar and to make the most of it. Special thanks go to my family and friends fo r their love and support during this process, especially my sister, Sheryl Heckler, and close friend, Priscilla Nieves, who heard me out when I just needed to vent. More thanks go to Steve Wallenstein. Additional thanks go to Stanley Cohen who helped me to stay focused when I wanted to veer off course. Thanks also go to Ray Gutoski for his insights. Martha Graham was always there with words of encouragement.


5 And finally, but very much not least, tha nks again to my wonderful sons, Tiffen and Michael, who inspired their mom. I love you more than words can ever express!


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................9 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 Al Jazeera English............................................................................................................. .....11 Purpose of Study.....................................................................................................................11 Timing of Study................................................................................................................ ......12 Reputation and Credibility in the News Media...................................................................... 13 Reputation of Al Jazeera....................................................................................................... ..14 Arabic-language Al Jazeera in Brief....................................................................................... 15 Al Jazeera English in Brief.................................................................................................... .16 What Lies Ahead................................................................................................................ ....17 Overview of Chapters.............................................................................................................18 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................20 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........20 Reputation Management Theory............................................................................................ 20 Communication Theory.......................................................................................................... 26 Objectivity and Its Impact on Reputati on Managem ent in the News Media.......................... 27 Credibility and Its Impact on Reput ation and in th e News Media......................................... 29 Agenda-Setting.......................................................................................................................30 Framing...................................................................................................................................31 Al Jazeera Arabic: A Brief Background................................................................................. 33 Satellite Technology and the Arab News Media....................................................................35 The Birth and Launch of AJE.................................................................................................36 AJE in the United States....................................................................................................... ..38 The Un-CNN.......................................................................................................................39 Research Focus.......................................................................................................................40 Research Questions............................................................................................................. ....41 Interviews at AJE Washington News Center.................................................................. 41 News Media Coverage....................................................................................................42 3 METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................. 43 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........43 Scope of Research...................................................................................................................43 Case Study Procedures.......................................................................................................... .44 Types of Case Studies.............................................................................................................45 Rationale for AJE Case Study................................................................................................46


7 Procedures..................................................................................................................... ..........47 Qualitative Interviews......................................................................................................... ....48 Sampling Technique...............................................................................................................50 Sample Description.................................................................................................................50 Interview Procedures..............................................................................................................51 Analysis of Interviews............................................................................................................52 Inductive, Text-Driven Content Analysis............................................................................... 52 Inductive Research and Framing............................................................................................ 53 Framing of AJE by the News Media...................................................................................... 54 Sampling and Data Collection................................................................................................55 Unit of Analysis............................................................................................................... .......55 Framing Analysis Procedures................................................................................................. 56 4 FINDINGS....................................................................................................................... .......58 Strategies AJE Employs to Establish a Positiv e Reputation in the United States..................58 Reversing the News Flow from South to North/P roviding a Voice to the Voiceless.............59 Celebrity Journalism and the Dazzle Factor........................................................................... 60 In-Depth Reporting and Contextual Objectivity.....................................................................61 Demystifying the Channel......................................................................................................62 To What Extent These Strategies Are Working..................................................................... 64 Cable and Satellite Distribution....................................................................................... 65 AJE and YouTube...........................................................................................................66 Guest Perspectives...........................................................................................................67 Reputation Quotient Index...................................................................................................... 68 Emotional Appeal ............................................................................................................68 Products and Services...................................................................................................... 69 Workplace Environment.................................................................................................. 70 Vision and Leadership..................................................................................................... 71 Social Responsibility....................................................................................................... 72 Financial Performance.....................................................................................................72 Summary.................................................................................................................................73 How the U.S. News Media Framed AJE................................................................................ 73 The New York Times......................................................................................................75 The Washington Post....................................................................................................... 76 The Christian Science Monitor........................................................................................ 77 USA Today...................................................................................................................... 78 The Boston Globe............................................................................................................78 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.................................................................................... 79 The San Francisco Chronicle........................................................................................... 80 Shift in the Type of Media Coverage of AJE since Launch................................................... 80 Summary.................................................................................................................................81 5 DISCUSSION.........................................................................................................................84 AJEs Future in the United States...........................................................................................84 Objectivity and Cont extual Objectivity ........................................................................... 87


8 Intercultural Competence................................................................................................89 U.S. Perspective of the Arab World................................................................................ 89 AJE and You Tube..........................................................................................................90 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........91 Suggestions for Future Research............................................................................................ 92 AJE Journalists................................................................................................................92 AJE Public Opinion Research......................................................................................... 92 AJE and YouTube...........................................................................................................93 AJE Cable and Satellite Distribution............................................................................... 93 Shifting Political Winds..................................................................................................94 Conclusions.............................................................................................................................95 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................97 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................107


9 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Mast er of Arts in Mass Communication COMING TO AMERICA: THE REPUTATION OF AL JAZEERA ENGLISH IN THE UNITED STATES By Ronnie A. Lovler May 2008 Chair: Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda Major: Mass Communications Al Jazeera English is the Qatar-founded inte rnational news network that launched in November 2006 as the first English-language global news channel not based in the West. It came into being ten years after its sister cha nnel, the Arabic language Al Jazeera. The panregional Arab-language network has been mired in controversy since its inception because of the way it has covered the news in the Middle East and because of its airing of video from the militant terrorist group Al Qaeda. Much of the world has learned to live with Al Jazeera, both the Arabic-language network and AJE. But the deba te over the journalistic tilt of Al Jazeera is still raging in the United States and may be preventing the fledging English-language network from getting on the air in the United States. This thesis explores the reputation manageme nt challenges that have confronted Al Jazeera English since it came into being in N ovember 2006, particular within the context of its aspirations as a news organization that presents the news from the perspective of the developing world. The art and science of communications co mprise a multifaceted study, even more so when journalism and public relations are simultane ously considered. Yet gi ven the complexities of AJE, clearly, it is more than just another ne twork trying to launch in the United States. It has


10 its roots in the Middle East, but is trying to go global. It has been la beled as terrorist. Reputation management issues tied to public relations concerns are as much a part of its package as the usual journalistic concerns about presentation of the news.


11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Al Jazeera English Al Jazeera E nglish (AJE her eafter) is the Qatar-f ounded international news network that launched in November 2006 as the first English-la nguage global news channel not based in the West. It came into being ten years after its sister channel, the Arabic language Al Jazeera. The pan-regional Arab-language network has been mired in controversy since its inception because of the way it has covered the news in the Middle East and because of its airing of video from the militant terrorist group Al Qaeda (Miles, 2005; Zaya ni, 2005). Much of the world has learned to live with Al Jazeera, both the Arabic-language network and AJE. But the debate over the journalistic tilt of Al Jazeera is still raging strong in the United States and may be preventing the fledging English-language network from getting on the air in the United States (Cohen, 2007; Fahri, 2006). Purpose of Study It is the issu e of reputation and the management of it that will be the focus of this exploratory study of AJE. It is exploratory because the network is young a nd still experiencing growing pains. Nor, to the knowledge of the author, had there been significant scholarly research published about AJE at the time of this writing. Certainly new avenues will be explored and changes made as the network seeks and es tablishes its place on the global communication stage. Similarly, it can be anticipated that further research will be done. But given that the network only came into being at the end of 2006, it is premature for any scholar to lay claim to making an exhaustive study of AJE or the reputation hurdles it faces and stil l seeks to overcome. Similarly, it is also beyond the scope of this investigation to examine AJEs global successes


12 and/or failures or to analyze its impact in Asia Europe, or Africa. While the rest of the world cannot be ignored, the focus of this res earch is on AJE in the United States. A chief objective is an obvious one how does AJE go about altering th e perception that it is a terrorist network among potential viewers in the United States (Brown, Lloyd, & James, 2007). But just as importantly, how does AJE go about entering a market where it is being stonewalled by the gatekeepers becaus e of perceptions about its image? This study aims to document the approach AJE is taking to manage its reputation. Research will examine what strategies AJE is employing to establish a positive reputation for itself as a credible news organization in the United States. The research will also assess whether AJE is making strides toward achieving its reputation management goals by looking at how AJE is covered by a representative sampling of U.S. news media. Timing of Study The author b ecame interested in conducting th is study now because of the evolving global media landscape. It all began, of course, with CNN, which launched in June 1980 (Whittemore, 1990). CNN went on to become a household word and laid the groundwork for the concept that governs international television news today continuous, ongoing news coverage (Robinson, 2002). The advent and improvement of satellite technology made it possi ble for a plethora of other new networks to follow suit. In the United States, MSNBC, Fox, and others set up round-the-clock news channels. The BBC is seeking to expand its international reach as it loses audiences sh ares at home (Viewers Turning Off, 2008) with programs such as BBC Ameri ca in the United States. Other more established networks trying to reach a global au dience with English language offerings include CCTV of China, ABC Austra lia, and Bloomberg TV.


13 Al Jazeera English is not the only new 24-hour network to come onto the world stage in the 21st century. France launched an inte rnational news channel in Fr ench and in English about a month after AJE went on the air. But at the beginning of 2008, at the behest of Frances president, France 24 announced it was planning to drop its English-language service (No English Please, 2008). A mistake some would say and one that the Al Jazeera executive team has no intention of making (Brady1, 2007; Cohen, 2007). The world is changing and as the world change s, so does the practice of global journalism (Seib, 2004). English is the global language the language of a global economy, a global culture, [and] a global information society (S tevenson, 1994). English-language news ventures would seem to make sense as the world b ecomes flatter (Friedman, 2005). AJE has a unique position as the only English-language network that is based in the Middle East at a time when technology and changing patterns of communicati on facilitate new appro aches toward covering the news. There already seems to be a place for AJE on the world media scene (Cohen, 2007; Mattingly, 2007). This research will examine wh ether there is a place for AJE in the United States. Reputation and Credibility in the News Media When one considers the reputation of a m edia corporation, it is credib ility, objectivity, and accuracy in reporting that come into play. A ne wspaper or television network that does not live up to those pillars of journalism has a reputati on problem on its hands. Consider the blowup that followed former CBS anchor Dan Rathers err oneous report on how President Bush avoided 1 Personal interview with Clive Brady, AJE executive, conducted October, 2007.


14 serving in Vietnam in the 1960s or the impact of Jason Blairs foray into fiction writing as a reporter for The New York Times (Gentzkow & Shapiro, 2006). A news medium without credib ility is news medium with a reputation problem on its hands. A mediums reputation is based on public perception of its credib ility (Abdulla, Garrison, Salwen, Driscoll, & Casey, 2001). AJE came onto the global media scene w ith a reputation that preceded it for better and for worse (Cohen, 2007; P earl, 2007). AJE is tryi ng to sell itself to a U.S. public torn between the seeming liberal valu es of a CNN and the more conservative mores of a Fox (Block,2 2007). AJE is betting there is a spot on the U.S. airwaves for an international television network that has its roots in the Middle East but offers an a la carte menu of in-depth reporting from around the world. Reputation of Al Jazeera The Arabic-language Al Jazeera ach ieved wo rld renown and for some global infamy after it obtained exclusive in terviews with Osama bin La den after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United St ates. It was also the sole tele vision network with correspondents in Afghanistan when U.S. troops invaded that country weeks la ter (Miles, 2005). If it were not for bin Laden and the U.S. attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, it is likely that it would have taken many more years for the Al Jazeera television network to become the household word it has become in the United States and in the West and perhaps even for AJE to come into being. For many Americans, the Al Jazeera name is in extricably linked to the man they construe as the epitome of evil, Osama bin Laden. Why? Perhaps because the images shown of bin Laden also displayed the Al Jazeera logo. As is custom ary in the world of television news, networks brand their video with their own logo. So the exclusive bin Lade n video that was aired on U.S. 2 Personal interview with Allan J. Block, owner of Block Communications, which owns Buckeye Cable Systems, conducted October, 2007.


15 television in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, also carried with it the Al Jazeera logo (Lovler, 2007).3 U.S. President George W. Bush has called Al Jazeera the terrorist ne twork because of its access to bin Laden and other senior members of Al Qaeda. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused the network of spreading "vicious lies" and U.S. officials have been upset by Al Jazeera's airing of footage of U.S. military deaths, as well as its unstinting coverage of the wars effects on civilians (Fahri, 2006, Mattingly, 2007). Arabic-language Al Jazeera in Brief The Arabic language Al Jazeera owes its ex istence and its success to a combination of factors including a bloodless coup in its hom e country of Qatar which brought a young and liberal emir to power; a failed effort by the BBC a nd Saudi Arabia to esta blish an earlier Arablanguage television network; and the takeoff of satellite tech nology in the Middle East. The Doha-based satellite network was founded in 1996 with funds from the Qatari government, broadcasting six hours a day to the Middle Ea st on the Arabsat sa tellite (Miles 2005). The history of the Arabic-language Al Jazee ra has already been well documented by Miles and others, including El-Nawawy and Islander (2002), Lynch (2005), Sakr (2004), and Zayani (2005). Al Jazeera started out as the little network that could. It took hold as audiences tuned in to watch its provocative programming. It challenged the regions authoritarian governments with newscasts and talk shows that d ealt head-on with cont roversial issues. Its maxim of the opinion and then the other opinion has given it access to bin Laden and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda. But it is also the only Arabic news ch annel to give Israeli government officials a voice on its airwaves ( Miles, 2005). 3 Unpublished remarks delivered by author Ronnie Lovler during a lecture to journalism students at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, April, 2007.


16 Always controversial, the Arabic-language Al Jazeera has been blasted by Western and Middle-Eastern leaders alik e not always for the same reason, but with equal disdain. Al Jazeera journalists and sometimes even the network itsel f have been kicked out of Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, and other Arab countries when government leaders found fault with Al Jazeera coverage (Lynch, 2006; Miles, 2005; Zayani. 2005). Al Jazeera English in Brief AJE is a different network than its Arabic-l anguage brethren, deliv ering the news with language and a style that is perh aps more palatable to a W estern audience with less coverage of Islam and fewer programs steeped in Middle Eastern and Arab cultural norms (Miles, 2008). In the United States, many of those who have view ed it give AJE good reviews, especially those who are looking for more serious coverage of the news than the latest celebrity scandal (Hodges,4 2007; Levine, 20075; Marash, 20076). AJE launched wrapped in the mantle of its sist er Arabic language ne twork for better and/or for worse lambasted by some for advocating the equivalent of jihad TV (Pearl, 2007) and praised by others for delivering consequentia l and compelling programming (Barnhart, 2007). It launched on Nov. 15, 2006 with more than 400 employees representing 40 different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds working in almost three dozen bureaus around the world. The network airs from four main broadcast st udios with programming that follows the sun in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Doha, Qatar; L ondon, and Washington, D.C. (Jurkowitz, 2006). Al Jazeera has gone out of its way to recru it journalists from we ll-established Western media news organizations like CNN, ABC, the Associated Press, the BBC, and the CBC 4 Personal interview with Diane Hodges, AJE interview producer, conducted October 2007. 5 Personal interview with Joanne Levine, AJE executive producer, conducted April 2007. 6 Personal interview with Dave Marash, AJE news anchor, conducted October 2007.


17 (Tischler, 2006). The journalists, themselves, aw are that something new and exciting was in the offing, were also eager to get on board (Hodges, 2007; Naidoo, 20077). Distribution in the United States, however, continues to be a problem. Network executives say political pressure is keep ing cable and satellite companie s from picking up the network; distributors say there is no market. At this writing, AJEs only television distribution in the United States is through a cable company in Ohio; a municipal carrier in Vermont, and to a very limited audience in Washington D.C. (Block, 2007; Hemingway, 2007). But in this age of online and interactive co mmunications, AJE is refusing to be stymied. Rather than simply accepting defeat, the innova tive AJE has found another way to get its programming out in the United States on the In ternet. In April 2007 Al Jazeera launched its own channel on the video sharing website, YouTube (Linder, 2007). Perhaps the Internet may prove to be the best tool for the AJE goal of giving a voice to the voiceless. What Lies Ahead The art and scienc e of communications is a multifaceted study, even more so when journalism and public relations are simultaneously considered. Yet given the complexities of AJE, clearly, it is more than just another network trying to launch in the United States. It has its roots in the Middle East, but is trying to go global. It has been labeled as terro rist. Reputation management issues tied to public relations concer ns are as much a part of its package as the usual journalistic concerns about presentation of the news. The new kid on the media block says it pres ents news, not propaganda in its news programs, yet still needs to find a way to persuade a skeptical U.S. public that this is so (Khan, 7 Personal interview with Anand Naidoo, AJE correspondent and anchor, conducted October 2007.


18 20078; Rushing, 20079). AJE journalists are journalists on a mission and their mission is to present a different world view by doing stories about people that the Western media generally ignore from places around the world that ar e similarly overlooked (Marash, 2007). The reputation management challenges that confront AJE are certainly more complex than those which other new media ventures might face. How it is attempting to confr ont that challenge and how its efforts are being perceived is the focus of this research. Overview of Chapters In the literature rev iew that makes up the sec ond chapter, the author will examine some of the research relevant to theories revolvi ng around reputation manage ment and communication. Other sections will look at the journalistic concer ns of credibility and objectivity in the news media and their possible impact on the reputation management concerns of AJE. It will also introduce the reader to theories of agenda-setti ng and framing, both components of the research. Another point raised concerns th e impact of satellite technolo gy on the news media in general and the Arab news media in particular. Finally, th e literature review will introduce the reader to the Arabic-language Al Jazeera as well as AJE and set the stage for the challenges the latter faces in the United States. The methodology chapter will provide some detail about the descrip tive or exploratory case study approach taken by the researcher and explain how the theoretical perspectives of reputation management, news objectivity, agenda-s etting and framing come into play. The case study is based on a series of in-d epth, qualitative, semi-structure d interviews conducted with key journalists and executives of AJE as well the pr esident of the sole commercial cable company 8 Personal interview with Riz Khan, member of AJE board of directors and host of an interactive interview show, conducted October 2007. 9 Personal interview with Josh Rushing, AJE mil itary affairs correspondent, conducted October 2007.


19 that was carrying AJE on its channel lineup at the time of this writing. It includes a content analysis of the interviews focusing on the main themes raised by the participants. Chapter 3 also explains how framing of AJE in the U.S. news media was explored through an inductive, textdriven content analysis. The fourth chapter examines the researchers findings and provides detailed information resulting from the qualitative interviews conduc ted with AJE personnel and the president of Buckeye Cable Systems in Ohio, the only corporate cable company to carry AJE in the United States at the time of this writing. The content analysis of the inte rviews reviews the main themes raised by the participants. A s econd part of the research methodology is a framing study of AJE done as a text-driven content an alysis of coverage about AJE through a sampling of major U.S. newspapers. Finally, the research findings provide a basis for discussi on and conclusions about the reputation management challenges faced by AJE in the United States. The discussion will consider whether the strategies employed by AJE to manage its reputation are adequate, particular in regard to their relationship with th e journalistic concerns of objectivity, credibility. and accuracy. The results of this analysis and what it might say to indicate success or failure of the AJE strategies will also be discussed. The chapter and the thesis itself conclude with recommendations and suggestions for further study and research.


20 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction AJE faces unusual challenges as it tries to b reak into the U.S. market. Like any new television network, it needs to convince cable and sa tellite distributors in th e United States that it is worth their while to give th e network a spot on thei r lineup. Usually the dr ive is confined to convincing the distributor of potential viewer interest and ther eby potential profits for the carrier. But in the case of AJE, there is another, pe rhaps even more important factor corporate reputation (Tischler, 2006). AJE has a reputation which proceeds it as t he terrorist network, so labeled by highranking officials in the Bush Ad ministration and others becaus e its Arabic language sister network is seen as an outlet for radical Islamic propaganda (Williams, 2007). That label has stuck and has worked to keep AJE off U.S. airwaves and unable to develop a traditional viewership in the United States (Cohen, 2007). To win a spot on the lineup of U.S. cable and sa tellite distributors, AJE needs to reverse its reputation and establish a standing as a credible news channel. It is making some inroads through its online programming both from its website and as a branded YouTube channel that can be seen on the Internet (Brady, 2007; Rushing, 2007). Bu t with the Internet fast gaining stature as a source of news and information (Choi, Watt, & Lynch, 2006), the venture with YouTube may prove to be more expeditious than originally thought. Reputation Management Theory Morley (2002) defines reputation m anagement as the orch estration of discrete public relations initiatives designed to promote or protect the most important brand you own your corporate reputation (p. 10). Na kra (2000) sees it as a corpor ate communication function that


21 consists of a method of building and sustai ning of an organization's good name, generating positive feedback from stakeholders that will resu lt in meeting strategic and financial objectives (p. 35). Reputation scholar Charle s Fombrun (1996) define s corporate reputation as a perceptual representation of a companys past actions and future prospects th at describes the firms overall appeal to all of its key constituents when compared with other leading rivals (p.72). Wartick (2002) sees Fombruns early definition as classic. But still he finds a myriad of definitions out there trying to put a name on the elusive concept or construct of reputation in the corporate world. He lists iden tity, image, prestige, goodwill, esteem, and standing to name but a few (p. 373). But Wartick argues that image, identity, and reputation are not interchangeable and that discussions of reputation manageme nt need to go beyond the ephemeral idea of perceptions about reputation to mo re clearly defined theories inco rporating models of reputation management. Others argue that although reput ation may be viewed as an intangible resource, it has an intrinsic value since reputation brings a standing or status with it that can make or break a corporation (Deephouse, 2000). The importance of reputation is evident by the growing body of literature around the topic and not incidentally, the emergence of at least two journals which focus on the issue as well as serious discussi ons about the topic with in the whole world of corporate communications (Hutt on, Goodman, Alexander, & Genest 2001). The authors point to previous research when they note: Concepts such as reputation and imag e are not generally something that can be managed directly, but are omnipresent and the global result of a firms or individuals behavior. Attempting to manage ones reputati on might be likened to trying to manage ones own popularity (a rather awkward, s uperficial and poten tially self-defeating endeavor).On the other hand, some advocates see reputation manageme nt as a guiding new force or paradigm for the entire field, in keeping with Warren Buff ets admonition that losing reputation is a far greater sin for an organization than losing money. (p. 249)


22 The Reputation Institute exists for the sole purpose of adva ncing the study of reputation. It defines its mission as one that aims to advance knowledge a bout corporate reputations and help companies create economic value by im plementing coherent reputing strategies (Reputation Institute, 2008). Si nce 1999, it has worked with Harris Interactive, Inc. to rank U.S. companies on their corporate reputation. The Re putation Quotient (Fombrun & Van Riel, 2004) outlines six components of corporate reputation emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and financial performance. In the inaugural issue of the institutes Corporate Reputation Review in the summer of 1997, Fombrun and Van Riel outlined the challenges of corporate reputation as a crossroads of converging discipline (p. 5) that constitute subjective, collectiv e assessments of the trustworthiness and reliability of firms (p.10). Even t oday, reputation scholars are trying to come to grips with the various components of reputation as outlined by the two not simply in terms of the obvious economic factors, but also so ciologically, organizati onally, and strategically (Fombrun & Van Riel, 1997). What is reputation and what is meant by reputation management? Can reputation be managed and/or measured (Doorley & Garcia, 2007) ? Clearly, as the annual Reputation Quotient Index shows, reputation can be m easured, but to what extent are assessments of reputation fair? One has only to remember high school days of yesteryear when a girls reputation was forever tarnished if she went too far with a boy, while the boy in question was unscathed by scandal to understand how complex issues of reputation can become. In another article for the Corporate Reputation Review Fombrun (2007) compiled a list of lists 183 public lists that provide rankings of a companys re putation in 38 countries, noting that making a good showing on a list can be more than just a one-time accomplishment. The


23 publicity they garner, in turn, creates a halo around corporate brands and influences the subsequent evaluations of comp anies by consumers and specialists alike, Fombrun states (p. 144). The researcher returns to Fombrun and Van Ri el for further insights about the importance of being visible in the public eye as a corpor ation goes about building a positive reputation. In a collaboration that looks at strategies followed by winning companies, the two note the importance of staying in the limelight (2004): An old French saying about leading the good lif e goes as follows: Pour vivre bien, il fault vivre cacheto live well live in hiding.T hats actually bad advice. In todays globalized, mediatized, information-rich worl d, hiding is no longer an option. Stakeholders demand access, insist on known what you dont want to tell, and reporte rs are hell-bent on discovering and revealing it. (p. 103) Another perspective on reputation holds that what needs to be sought is not merely visibility, but vision (Surma, 2006). Noting that the word reputation itself derives from the Latin reputare, which means to think over, Surma argues: For an organization to be defined by its reputati on is for it to be defined according to an individual or groups judgment of its trustwor thiness and its integritythat is, according to its judged capacity to act ethi cally and responsibly in all its interactions and practices. (p.1) In other words, Surma argues in favor of a v isionary approach such as the one she sees being taken by a company like Nike, Inc. the gl obal producer of footw ear, clothing, and other athletic gear and accessories. The corporations new mantra is transpare ncy in the aftermath of a 1998 lawsuit against the company over its em ployment practices in Southeast Asia. WalMart is an example of another company that might be construed as visionary as in terms of the efforts it is making to revamp its reputation (Lovler, 2007)10, with its plans to make more 10 Unpublished remarks delivered by author Ronnie Lovler during a lecture to journalism students at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, April, 2007


24 energy-saving products available along with ongoi ng image-enhancers such as low prices for generic prescription drugs (Kabel, 2008). Vision or visibility or both? There are no easy answers, and while attempts to provide the same are beyond the scope of th is thesis, it is evident that an organization or company with a bad reputation will feel the impact not just in terms of poor corporate image, but where it counts most in the business world the bottom line. This is borne out by recent corporate scandals involving unethical behaviors su ch as the 2002 creative accounting employed by Enron and its accountants at Arthur Anderson; the 2006 Hewlett Packard spyi ng scandal, and the 2007 sub prime mortgage lending meltdown in the Unite d States. All demonstrate how quickly the reputation not just of a particul ar corporation, but of an industry itself can be sullied by foul or questionable business play (Doorley & Garcia, 2007). Reputation is receiving increas ing attention in strategic ma nagement circles because of the far-reaching impact of corporate misdeeds and/ or missteps such as those just cited. Indeed reputation management may be the new public rela tions buzzword, at least as regards corporate communications. The factors that influence a co rporations reputation or its good name are found within the media, the social and economic enviro nment, and the corporation itself. Whats in a name? Everything (Fombrun & Shanley, 1990). Crisis situations can also impact reputation. On the what to do side, public relations scholars often cite the Johnson & Johnson response to the Tylenol product tampering murders in Chicago in 1982 (Gregory & Weichman, 1999). On the what NOT to do side, is Exxon Corporations handling of the af termath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaskas Prince William Sound in 1989, where it was Exxons lack of public re lations finesse, rather than the spill itself which so damaged the oil companys reputati on (Doorley & Garcia, 2007; Holusha, 1989).


25 So we can see that reputation is an asset th at must be managed like any other asset in other words, while reputation itself is intangible, it has great tangible value. Why else would intrepid entrepreneur Warren Buffett put reputati on before profits in his assessment of what really counts (Doorley & Garcia, 2007)? But to maintain and to enhance reputation and to manage it well, communication is critical. If public relations can be defined as the management of communication between an or ganization and its publics (Gruni g & Hunt, 1984) and reputation is the sum of the image various constituencies have of an organization (Fombrun, 1996) then reputation equals the sum of images plus communication (Doorley & Garcia, 2007). Deephouse (2000) takes the argument a step further when he puts forward his own concept of media reputation. He describes me dia reputation as a st rategic resource with development of a good reputation in the media as an essential com ponent of reputation management. He adds: The assumption that media coverage records and influences public knowledge and opinion is applicable to reputation because media cove rage is a reasonable indicator of the publics knowledge and opinions about firms within a few months of the publication date. Some members of the public may have direct knowledge and opinions of an event or issue that reporters gather for newspaper stories. These stories may then influence those members of the public without direct experience or str ongly held opinions. For instance, knowledge and opinions about the Exxon Valdez oil spill spread from those who lived on Prince William Sound through the media to the rest of the world. (p. 1096) What Deephouse has done is to establish the link between reputation management constructs and communication theory involving the media, particularly in regard to agenda setting and framing concepts to be discussed later in this chapter. He defines media reputation as the overall presentation of a firm in the me dia (p. 1106). In other words, the media provides information to stakeholders, but how the media de termines what it chooses to present (agenda setting) and how it presents this information (framing) can impact reputation.


26 Communication Theory In the now classic book, Four Theories of the Pr ess a perspective on the historical, philosophical, and social role of the global me dia was presented (Siebert, Peterson, & Schramm, 1956). It was relatively easy to divide up the medi a a half century ago and classify it into four categories authoritarian, libertarian, communist, or socially responsible. But that theory had to e volve and change in the 20th century. The four theories became five concepts Western, devel opment, revolutionary, authorit arian, and communist (Hatchen, 1999). Even with this division, most internat ional news was gathered and disseminated by Western news media, albeit to a new and growi ng international audience in Asia, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. But the world has changed even mo re in the first years of the 21st century. The global village that Marshall McLuhan predicted almost half a century ago is here (McLuhan, 1962). News programs can be transnational, internationa l, and global bringing ev ents across cultures as well as across nations (Volkmer, 1999). The information flow is east-west for some; north-south for others. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terro rist attacks, much of the news is reflecting what some have labeled a clas h of civilizations between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds (Sieb, 2004). The Arabic-language Al Jazeera and AJE came into being in this changing media landscape. The two networks are part of the m ovement toward global media diversity which is ending the stranglehold Western media traditio nally have had on the media (Sieb, 2004). For the media, issues of credibility and objectivity are where concerns about reputation management and how to communicate messages co me face to face. They are of particular importance in understanding the special challenges facing AJE in the United States. These are the topics to be reviewed next.


27 Objectivity and Its Impact on Reputat ion Man agement in the News Media For purposes of this study, when the issue of traditional journalistic objectivity is raised, the reference will be within the framework of Am erican or U.S. journalism. With that in mind, we can look at the objectivity norm as somethi ng that compels the journa list to report the news in a manner that is free of bias, opinion, or any type of slant (Schudson, 2001). Objectively speaking no pun intended the question of whether there really is such a thing as journalistic objectivity is one that seems to engender all types of subjective ponderings. Dennis and Merrill (2006) pres ent a good case for both sides of the issue, with Merrill contending that it is an impossi ble dream, while Dennis argues that it is something that can be achieved. Regardless of where one falls on the ob jectivity spectrum, it is not an easy thing to define. Ryans (2001) comparison of journalistic objectivity with scientific objectivity fails to take into account this perspective. His argument for tried and true ob jectivity is subjective in and of itself. This researcher w ould call objectivity being fair and accurate. But then the subjective question can be raised fair and accurate, according to whom? Cunningham (2003) wrote that if one asks 10 journalists what obj ectivity means, the interlocutor would get 10 differe nt answers. Journalism educator Michael Bugeja, who is quoted by Cunningham (2003) in that same article, defines objectivity as seeing the world as it is, not as you would like it to be. The New York Times columnist David Brooks equates objectivity with truth but whose truth? (Brooks, 2006). And it seems that the c onventional western view of objectivity is too much even for the venerable Society of Professional Journalists to tackle. SPJ removed objectivity from its code of ethics in 1996 (Society of Professional Journalists, 2008). So where does AJE fall on the objectivity scale? The network has its own 10-point code of ethics, published on its website which calls for, among othe r things, adherence to the


28 journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, cr edibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political cons iderations over profe ssional ones (Al Jazeera English, 2008). Contextual objectivity expands the idea of objectivity, allowing us to understand that objectivity has to be placed in a context (E l Nawawy, 2003). El Nawawy and Iskander (2002) came up with the concept of contex tual objectivity, defining it as an attempt "to reflect all sides of any story while retaining the values, beliefs and sentiments of the target audience" (p.27). This is particular relevant t oday when it comes to reporting on and about the clashing cultures of East and West in our changing worl d, particularly times of war or in the parlance of AJE, North and South. El Nawawy uses the concept of contextual objectivity to explain the incredible success of Al Jazeera in the Arab world even as it engend ers anger and outrage in the West, particularly in terms of its coverage of the war in Iraq. El Nawawy explains: The business of reporting and in terpreting this war is governed by how the media approach it and how the audience perceives it. Both Arab and American television networks try to cover all aspects of the war the good, the bad, and the ugly. But the good, the bad, and the ugly are all in the eye of the beholder the au dience seeking "truth." Contextual objectivity is the reason we are watching tw o different televised versions of the same war and it is something that both worlds could better unde rstand if they're ever to coexist. (2003) In the extreme, contextual objectivity means one persons terro rist is anothers martyr or can turn what is a war of liberation for some into a war of occupation for others. What does this discussion of contextual objectivity have to do with reputation management? Possibly, everything, since perceptions of objectivity and credibility enhance rather than distract from a news medias reputation. The multinational team of journalists who ma ke up AJEs staff would argue that seeing the world only through our own news prism does not really reflect the re ality of the way that


29 others see the world (Hodge s, 2007; Khan, 2007; Levine, 200 7; Rushing, 2007). In the 21st century, journalists may need to consider comb ining the mores of old-school objectivity with those of contextual objectivity, in the news stories that they do. This concept of contextual objectivity can help to explain a difference in the way news is covered and why there appear to be so many discrepancies from network to netw ork in terms of both worldviews and the word choices that are made in the writing a nd/or reporting process (El Nawawy, 2003). Credibility and Its Impact on Reputation and in the News Media A corporatio n whose main product is news faces a different set of criteria when it comes to managing reputation. Here cred ibility, ethics, and fair and honest presentation of the news are what can make or break the reputation of the me dium in question. Television in particular has lost ground in terms of public pe rceptions about its credibility (Kiousis, 2001). Before launching his study, Kiousis expected that television would maintain its position as the fairest of them all, but instead his findings saw the print media edge ahead as the most credible source of news. Scholarly research on credibility has looked at credibility from the perspective of message, source, and medium (Kiousis, 2001). In the United States, media credibility studi es have been ongoing for more than 80 years when the first comparative look between radio and newspapers were taken in the 1930s. Newspapers and television have battled for the e dge for more than 50 ye ars (Metzger, Flanagin, Eyal, Lemus, & Mccann, 2003), but recent studies s how it is the Internet that may be winning the credibility battle in the United St ates, at least as regards coverage of the war in Iraq (Choi, Watt, & Lynch, 2006). A 2006 study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found credibility ratings of major U.S. broadcast a nd cable television networks have declined in the first years of the 21st century. Of nearly 3,300 people surveyed, less than one in four believed what they saw


30 on network news and only slightly more than th at found cable news reporting credible (Crupi, 2006). The Pew look at trends in 2005 found the pub lic more and more dissatisfied with the way news is reported, and viewing habits becoming mo re politically polarized. The only news source that has continued to grow and gain stature is the Internet. The 2006 Pew study found that 50 million people went online to obtain news during th e course of a day, on the average. Almost one out of four Americans uses the In ternet as their main source of news (Pew Research Center for People and the Press, 2008). And when it comes to following developments about the war in Iraq, most Americans find the Internet to be th e most credible medium (Choi, Watt, & Lynch, 2006; Pew, 2006). Why is this relevant to AJE and its efforts to establish a following in the United States? Because in the United States, AJE is viewed prim arily on the Internet. While this study looks at reputation management issues and their impact on AJEs efforts to obtain satellite and cable distribution in the United States the fact that AJEs U.S. di stribution is primarily managed through the Internet should not be ignored. If the resear ch shows the Internet gaining credibility as a news medium, then future study might be warra nted to determine whethe r its initial and still prevalent relegation to the Internet, may ulti mately be a boon for AJE in the United States. Agenda-Setting The m edia do influence public opinion (Lippman, 1922). His assertion, made nearly a century ago, still holds true today our point of view as journalist and as audience may be governed by preconceived perceptions, the pictures in our heads. Also commonly accepted today is the role of agenda-setting in public opinion, in other words recognition that the mass media does influence public knowledge and public opinion based on the news stories it covers (McCombs & Shaw, 1972).


31 Agenda setting is the coin termed by McCo mbs and Shaw in their study of the medias coverage of the 1968 presidential race in Charlotte, North Carolina. Media coverage of issues and events increases the salience of these issues a nd events, with their findings that the issues the public considered most important were the issues most covered by the media (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Their study shows a relationship be tween what the media covers and the issues that are of public concern (McQuail, 1994). Salience transfer is the way the media influe nces individuals about what to think about the importance of an issue. In a 1982 study, Iyenga r, Peters, and Kinder exposed different groups to different news broadcasts on one day and then again a few days later and compared the results. They found opinions of those surv eyed, changed to match the emphasis given in the news stories viewed. In other words, the TV news coverage di d influence their point of view. The findings of McCombs and Kiousis (2004) in their study of the 1996 presidential elections demonstrated the medias influence on reasoning and judgment thr ough the process of agenda setting. They argue: It is important not to think of agenda set ting as only a theory about issues. The core proposition of the theory is the transfer of salience from one agenda to another agenda. The salience of objectsissues, candidates, public figures, organizations, or whateveris the first level of agenda setting, and the salience of attributes is the second level of agenda setting. Second-level re search, in particular, has unde rscored the need for a more systematic perusal of the attitudina l outcomes of agenda setting. (p.38) More than a theory, however, agenda setting serves a function by telling people what to think about although not necessarily, how to thi nk about it. Framing takes agenda-setting one step further in the communication process by th e way it chooses to focus public attention on a given topic. Framing Fram ing is another aspect of agenda-setting that focuses on the way stories are presented by the media, influencing the way the public thinks about a particul ar issue or event. Goffman


32 (1974) sees a frame as a schemata of interpretati on that lets the individual makes sense of the information being presented and to use the inform ation in a meaningful way. Goffman used the idea of frames to create the cat egories that allow individuals or groups "to locate, perceive, identify, and label" events and o ccurrences to give them meaning. In terms of the news media, framing is a form of agenda-setting that influences audience perceptions about what is in the news based on language, perspective and supporting interviews in a news story (Ayeni, 2004; Kosicki, 1993). Fr aming focuses on the issues and places them within a field of meaning and tells people not ju st what to think about (agenda-setting), but suggests how to think about it (Maher, 2001). A good example is that given by Zoch and Mo lleda (2006) in their reference to the controversy over whether to fly the Confederate flag over the state house in Columbia, South Carolina. They note that some social groups might frame that flag as a symbol of an odious past; others frame it as part of the states cultural he ritage. In other words, what one thinks about whether to fly the flag depends on ones frame of reference. Framing has to do with the way a story is packag ed, the words and/or pictures that are used to present the information that gu ides the public to think about a ne ws story or event in a certain way. Framing allows a news orga nization to define a political issue or public controversy (Nelson, Oxley, & Clawson, 1997). Ayeni (2004) notes that organizational gatekeeping, ideological slant, power relations, self-censors hip, and even bias are also concerns. Media professionals credibility is gauged by their objec tivity and detachment, refl ected in the level of transparency exhibited in subjec t selection, treatment, packaging, and dissemination of news.


33 Framing is as its name implies, sets borders and perspectives around an issue, providing a context or a backdrop for an issue or news event that can influence publ ic perception and public opinion. Communication scholar Robert Entman (1993) puts it like this: Framing essentially involves selection and salien ce. To frame is to select some aspects of perceived reality and make them more salient in the communicating text, in such a way as to promote, a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, mo ral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. (p. 55) Just as important when framing is studied, wh at is left out of a news story can be as significant and salient as what is put into it (G itlin, 1980). Al Jazeera and AJE have been framed by the Bush Administration as bei ng terrorist and reporting vicio us lies in their coverage of Al Qaeda and other events in the Middle East. Not brought up, is the way Al Jazeera and AJE cover Israel or provide time on their air for interviews with Is raeli government officials (Hodges, 2007). How the media determines what is important is another aspect of agenda-setting. In the case of international news and events is it the ubiquitous Washington that makes the call or does the United States media make its own decision about global news? It is beyond the scope of this investigation to discuss that issue, but suffi ce to say, that had the Bush Administration not pointed its coll ective finger at Al Jazeera while labeling it terrorist, there might have been no reason for this analysis. While there is much to be said about framing and agenda-setting and their importan ce in analyzing news coverage, that is not the primary purpose of this research, other than to take an explorator y look at how these two concepts come to play in terms of AJEs reputation management initiatives. Al Jazeera Arabic: A Brief Background Al Jazeera went on the air in 1996, a success almost from the start. Its provocative style challenged the regions authoritari an governments with newscasts a nd talk shows that dealt head-


34 on with controversial issues. Its maxim of the opinion and then the other opinion has given it access to bin Laden and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda. But it is also the only Arabic news channel to give Israeli government officials a voice on its airwaves ( El Nawaway & Iskander, 2002; Hodges, 2007). The Arabic-language network has revamped th e way news is delivered in the Middle East. It is credited with almost single-hande dly changing the scope and form of the Arab electronic media from being pedantic, dull m outhpieces of officialdom to provocative and thoughtful voices of change (Sakr, 2004). Qatars new ruler young and liberal and schooled in the West was interested in new technologies and new means of communication. He was also motiv ated by the idea that a television network might extend ti ny Qatars influence in the re gion and the world (Miles, 2005). So for an investment of about $137 million, he funded Al Jazeera. The network got an instant boost from the demise of a Saudi-BBC attempt to establish a regional Arab-language network. That effort cr umpled because of Saudi censorship demands, making a pan-Arab pool of Western-trained journalists readily available to sign on with Al Jazeera (El Nawawy & Iskander, 2002; Miles, 2005; Rushing 2007). Several things set Al Jazeera apart from other Arabic language news channels of the time its freedom from government controls and censors; its packaging right from the start as a satellite news network; its stated commitment to balance and equal coverage; and the multinational makeup, commitment, and profe ssionalism of its jour nalists (Sakr, 2004). Technological advances, primarily satellite televisi on and the Internet have created a new Arab public sphere that Al Jazeera domina tes (Lynch, 2003). Those who cannot afford to downlink satellite TV in their hom es, gather in public cafes to watch the news shows that are


35 now replacing government dictates as a frame of reference for public debate. Other Arabiclanguage satellite news networks have been fo rmed, such as the U.S. government funded AlHurra and Al-Arabiya, based in Dubai, but Al Jazeera is still th e leader (Worth, 2008). This dominance is evident even outside the re gion. In Canada and in Europe almost anywhere where the self-titled Arab Diaspora has established a toehold, Al Jazeera has become the network of choice among view ers in that community (Nawaw y & Iskander, 2002). And in a recent study, Arab viewers in Britain said th ey found Al Jazeera more credible and more believable than CNN or the BBC (Miladi, 2006). Satellite Technology and the Arab News Media The Arabic-language Al Jazeera network has had an im pact on the Arab media and its audience that has gone far beyond the expectations of those who were part of the venture when it was first launched (El Nawawy & Iskander, 200 2; Miles, 2005; Rushing, 2007; Zayani, 2005). Political leaders and heads of states can no longer control the news through government-run broadcasting outlets, because their citizens were ab le to view another si de of the story on Al Jazeera, and now, on dozens of other sate llite networks (De Franceschi, 2007). Satellite technology is hampering the ability of any government to absolutely control what is seen and heard by its citizens (Sakr, 2004). In the early 1990s, there really was no television journalism in the Arab world, unl ess one counted stateowned and controlled television news as journalism (Schliefer, 2005). Broa dcasting is pass; it is satellite transmission or satcasting that is the norm. The Arabic-la nguage Al Jazeera has changed the way media is received and delivered in the Middle East and be yond, in a way that is not unlike the effect CNN had on the foreign policy of ma ny nations during the 1991 Persian Gulf War (The CNN Effect, 2002).


36 The CNN effect, or the way live, co ntinuous, ongoing news coverage impacts international events laid the ground for what Zaya ni has labeled the Al Jazeera phenomenon in his book by the same name (Zayani, 2005). In it s own way, the Arabic-language Al Jazeera has had as much of an impact in the way news a nd information is delivered and acted upon in the Middle East and beyond. Al Jazee ra has built upon the CNN effect to create its own phenomenon. Al Jazeera did more than just change the way news was transmitted in the Middle East; it also influenced Arab public opinion and Arab politics. Its in-your-face style of journalism and interview programs captivated a pan-Arab audien ce and galvanized them. The Arabic language Al Jazeera has the dubious distinction of not just being demonized by the Bush Administration, but of being kicked out of every Arab nation at one time or another as well (Miles, 2005; Rushing, 2007; Zayani, 2005). The Birth and Launch of AJE AJE correspondent Josh Rushing has a very si m ple explanation for why AJE came into being. We launched Al Jazeera English because th e Emir of Qatar said to do it. He has never publicly said why he thought an English-language [network] was needed leaving us as well as the rest of the world to speculate on this thinking (Rushing, 2007, p. 193). But what now has become a Qatari media conglomerate has given D oha much more clout on the world political stage than its mini-state status might merit de spite its oil and natural gas reserves (Williams, 2007). Until just a day before launch, the network was to be called Al Jazeera International, a reflection of its global aspirati ons. But in last-minute conversati ons, literally as the network was getting ready to go on the air, there was a sense that internati onal was the wrong word to use since both Al Jazeera networks reach an international audience (Brady, 2007).


37 AJE is a bigger and more expensive gamble than the original Arabic language network. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani has put $1 billion in to the high definition, state-of-the-art network (Frontline, 2007). But much more is at stake. Al Jazeera is moving outside of the Middle East. With an English language network, Al Jazeera is deve loping a global face. AJE is organized around four broadcast cent ers with programming that follows the sun from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Doha, Qatar; London, and Washington. At a time when Western news organizations are cutting b ack on international c overage and reducing staff, AJE promises to cover the world. It has hundreds of journalists representing about 40 different nationalities and ethnicities working in three dozen bureaus in pl aces not often considered news centers (Al Jazeera, 2007). The AJE team is made up of highly resp ected and well-known journalists who have already carved out a name for themselves in the profession while working for Western media organizations like CNN, ABC, the Associated Press, BBC, and CBC. On-air personalities include Sir David Frost, a long-time British talk show host; former ABC Nightline correspondent Dave Marash, a lead anchor in the Washingt on bureau; Riz Khan, Veronica Pedrosa and Anand Naidoo, all previously with CNN, and others fr om Sky News, CBC, Britains ITV, and CNBC. Josh Rushing, the ex-Marine public affa irs officer, who was featured in Control Room the 2004 documentary about the Arabic language Al Jazee ra and its coverage of the war in Iraq, is on board. In 2007, Rushing traveled to Iraq, as a journalist, instead of as a Marine (11Smrikarov, 2007). 11 Personal interview with Mark Smrikarov, an acc ount executive with Brown, Lloyd James Strategic Communications, conducted April, 2007.


38 AJE in the United States The AJE launch was easy from a perspective of garnering publicity. It had a brand name that was already known (Sauer, 2003) and because of the unique nature of what it was and who is involved with it, it was able to get abundant media coverage internationally and within the United States (Levine, 2007; Mattingly, 2007). Globally, AJE has also had a high degree of success in picking up viewers, claiming to have passed the 100 million viewer mark just 10 months after launch (A l Jazeera English). But it has had a tougher time overcoming the hur dle of viewership in the United States. The reputation of the Arabic language Al Jazeera as the terrorist network has preceded it. Network executives say political pressure is keeping AJE off the air in the United States; distributors say there is simp ly no market (Hemingway, 2007). A 2006 poll found that 53 percent of people in the United States opposed the launch of the channel. Twothirds of those polled thought the U.S. government should not allow the channel to enter the U.S. market (Dajani, 2006). The network has employed an external public re lations firm to assist in the reputation management arena. The firm, Brown Lloyd James, has set out a number of objectives, including first and foremost altering the perception of AJE as terrorist TV by adopting a controlled PR approach that would create a gradual shift in perception about the network (Brown Lloyd James, 2008). The hitch, however, remains distribution in the United States. So far, only two cable companies carry AJE in the United States, the Toledo, Ohio-based Buckeye Cable System and the municipal system in Burlington, Vermont. Ph ilip Lawrie, a former international distribution executive for CNN has been brought on board as director of global di stribution (Brady, 2007).


39 but as of this writing, AJE has not signed on any new cable or satellite carriers in the United States. But in this day and age of online communi cation, AJE has found an alternative the Internet. In April 2007, AJE signed a deal with YouTube to make some of its programming available on the popular video shar ing website by establishing its own branded channel on the site (Al Jazeera, 2007; Ivry, 2007). The arrangement with YouTube has put AJE be fore the eyes of tens of thousands of people who may not have seen the network otherwise. Variety magazine reported in October 2007 there are between 50,000 and 100,000 AJE downloads daily on YouTube, presumably with a majority coming from the United States. No other news network has gone this route in the United States, but then again, no other news network has been bl ocked in the United States the way AJE has been. Indeed, AJE may find itself doing double duty as a media pioneer breaking ground not only in the type of news it offers its audiences, but in the way it delivers the news to them. Innovative interactive approaches may help AJE gain ground in the United States. So might its willingness to publicly laugh at itself. A few days after AJE launched, its Washington, D.C. anchors took part in a five-minute se gment on Comedy Central s increasingly popular Daily Show. The segment was taped in AJEs studios where Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee gave AJE anchors tips on how to appeal more to a U.S. audience. Not only did the piece give AJE more visibility among younger viewers attracted to the Daily Show it also showed that as a network, AJE had a sense of humor. The Un-CNN Think of AJ E as the un-CNN (Pintak, 2006). It is like a certain kind of soda which calls itself the uncola, but which still has the fizz and the feel of that other kind of soft drink. AJE


40 has the look and feel of CNN or the BBC, but it is decidedly not either network. On launch day, it focused much of its coverage on parts of the world that the Western me dia have neglected but left out the usual suspects stories that originated in the United States, Europe, or Japan. AJE is challenging CNN and the BBC and the ga tekeepers at other Western media outlets who make the decisions about what is news with its commitment to reversing the direction of the global news flow. While CNN International (CNN I) makes some effort to do this, it is less successful now than it had been in the past in taking this approach, be cause of the constant changes in leadership and program formatting at the network. At the old CNN, the news was the star of the show; now each program is a platfo rm for its respective anchor even at CNNI (Lovler, 2007)12. But the biggest difference still lies in how the news is covere d. AJE journalist and talk show host Riz Khan, who has worked with both the BBC and CNN, sums it up with his take on the difference between CNN style coverage and th at of AJE. American news channels tend to "show the missiles taking off," Kahn says. "Al-Jazeera shows them landing" (Khan, 2007). AJE intends to set the news agenda for othe rs to follow (Levine, 2007) by altering the direction of the global news fl ow from the developing to the developed world and giving those traditionally at the bottom of the news pyramid a chance to be heard or as AJE puts it, give a voice to the voiceless. As the first non-wester n English-language international news network, AJE comes to the table with a far different pe rspective than its predecessors of the West. Research Focus AJE believes it can overcom e its reputation management problem because of the credibility of its journalists and what it perceives as the integrity of its mission, self-defined as 12 Unpublished remarks delivered by author Ronnie Lovler during a lecture to journalism students at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, March, 2007


41 balancing the information flow from South to North, providing accurate impartial and objective news for a global audience from a grass roots leve l [and] giving voice to different perspectives from under-reported regions around the worl d (Al Jazeera news release, 2008). The researcher is interested in looking at what AJE is doing to alter the pe rception that it is a terrorist network and build a positive reputation for itself in the United States. The questions will be answered through a two-pronged appro ach interviews with AJE journalists and executives employed at the Washington, D.C. News Center and by a qualitative framing analysis of coverage about AJE in the United States. Th e media sample is confined to relevant news stories and editorials published in major nationa l and urban U.S. newspapers as culled by a LexisNexis search. By confining the study to newspa pers, the researcher belie ves it will be easier to note changes in the way storie s about AJE were written, if i ndeed differences in perception and coverage did occur. Research Questions The research attem pts to answer four questions as posited below. Answers to the first two questions were obtained through the qualitative open-ended interviews conducted at AJEs Washington News Center., or when not possible by telephone. The qualitative framing analysis of the sample of U.S. newspapers selected for the study provides answ ers to the last two questions. Interviews at AJE Washington News Center RQ1 W hat strategies are being employed by AJE to establish a positiv e reputation in the United States? RQ2 To what extent are these strategies working?


42 News Media Coverage RQ3 How did the U.S. news m edia frame AJE imme diately prior to and at the time of its launch in their reporting on the network? RQ4 Has there been a shift in th e type of media coverage AJE has been receiving since launch?


43 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction Procedures and system s used in this study are fundamentally based on tenets of case study research methodology, utilizing two princi ple means of gathering evidence semistructured qualitative interviews and a textual qualitative analysis of news coverage in select media looking at framing. Case studies are freq uently used in public relations studies and teachings (Morley, 2002), one reason this approach was taken by the researcher. This is a snapshot case study of Al Jazeera English, (hereafter AJE), an international news network, and its efforts to break into the U.S. market. The network is unique because of its Middle Eastern origins and the perceptions of it by some in the United States that it supports terrorism. AJE is the first 24/7 glob al news network that is not h eadquartered in the United States or Western Europe (Khan, 2007; Rushing, 2007). It has penetrated markets in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and of course, the Middle East (Brady, 2007). But it has had an extraordinary lack of success in obtaining tr aditional cable and satellite ca rriage in the United States. This examination of AJE is a case study of a mass medium which is distinctive in the way it came into being, in its approach to news coverage, and in the particular reputation management issues that confront it. Specifically, this i nvestigation looks at th e strategies AJE is employing to overcome its reputation management problems. The study also looks at framing in the U.S. news media in regard to the way news was reported about AJE at or about the time of its launch and again, at a period of time su rrounding the networks first anniversary. Scope of Research As a case study, the research consists of two prim ary components qualitative, openended in-depth interviews with journalists and executives at AJEs Washington, D.C. News


44 Centre and inductive, text-drive n content analysis of a sampli ng of print media news stories about AJE both at the time of its launch in November 2006 and in the months preceding and immediate following the first annivers ary of its airing in November 2007. The study looked AJEs corporate reputation in itiatives in the United States with a particular focus on the way it presents and delivers the news and the way these initiatives were covered in a representative sampling of newspapers The scope of the research was limited to the United States, because it is within the United St ates that the network is having its greatest difficulty breaking into the consumer market; b ecause of funding and time constraints that limited travel to other AJE operation centers; and b ecause inductive, text-driven content analysis of news coverage about AJE by U.S. me dia is a component of this research. Case Study Procedures Varying definitions of a case study have been offered. Merriam -Websters online dictionary defines a case study as an intensive an alysis of an individu al unit as a person or community stressing developmental factors in re lation to the environment (Merriam-Webster, 2008). Yin (2003) defines a case study as an empi rical inquiry that inve stigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident and in which multiple sources of evidence are used (p. 13). Kumar (2005) defines it as an approach to studying a social phenomenon throug h a thorough analysis of an individual case (p.113). What makes a case study valuable is this intensive, in-depth look at a single topic. Case studies have become quite useful in studying a wide range of concerns. They have been used to look at reforms and issues in the field of education (Zigler & Muen chow, 2004) and in the business world as exemplified by Harvard Business Reviews Case Studies. One of the bestknown case studies is the look at President J ohn F. Kennedys handling of the Cuban Missile


45 Crisis as a study of U.S. government crisis management (Allison, 1971; Yin, 2003). More recently, a case study of a skin product sold in Asia and Africa puts reputation and corporate social responsibility under the microscope (Karnani, 2007). Types of Case Studies There are three kinds of case studies desc riptive, exploratory and explanatory (Yin, 2003: Tellis, 1997). Descriptive case studies depict events and/or processes; exploratory case studies survey situations where there is no pre-determined or defined outcome anticipated, and explanatory case studies clarify and elucidate situations (Fishe r & Ziviani, 2003). Stake (1995) identified three more types of case studies; intrin sic instrumental and coll ective. Of particular interest was Stakes categorization of the intrinsic case study It is not unusual for the choice of a case to be no choice at all. The case is given. We are interested in it, not because by studying it we learn about other cases or about some general problem, but because we need to learn about th at particular case. We have an intrinsic interest in the case, and we may ca ll our work intrinsic case study. (p.3) In other words, the intrinsic case study is done precisely for the purpose of studying something that can stand by itself in a class of its own. In general, however, the best time to use case study research is when it is something in the here and now that is being studied. Case st udies are the preferred strategy when how or why questions are being posed, when the investig ator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context, Yin writes (Yin, 2003). A case study can offer insights into the widest range of social science concerns and to evaluate and/or bring about a greater understanding of an event or situation where there are no clearly defined or antici pated results (Yin, 2003). Flyvbjerg (2006) points out five misunderstandings about case study research, including the idea that th eoretical knowledge has


46 more value than practical knowledge, which he then successfully refutes. Yin, however, also notes that the findings of case study research are frequently ch allenged and that the insights derived may be underappreciated (Yin, 2003). The author hopes this will not be the case here. Rationale for AJE Case Study The case study was selected as an appropriate methodology for this study for the following reasons. Given that AJE only made its debut in November 2006; as such there is limited scholarly research available. It is curre nt and a phenomenon of now, with questions about how and why needing answers (Yin 2003), even as external and internal developments impact the network in ways which determine it s present and define its future. This is both an exploratory case study and an intrinsic case study of a singular news organization AJE with unique concerns and attributes. It is exploratory and intrinsic because of the particular attributes of AJE there is no other news network exactly like it given its Middle Eastern origins and its reputation challenges. It is explor atory because there is no predetermined or defined outcome anticipated and because the researcher followed developments about Al Jazeeras plans to establish an English-language network in the U.S. and international news media for about a year before beginning the study. It is intrinsic becau se of the researchers curiosity about AJE. The researcher became intrigued after seeing the documentary about Al Jazeera, Control Room, and began reading about Al Jazeera and the Arab media in general. The researchers a priori interest in AJE, Al Jazeera and the Arab media further contribute to the exploratory and intrinsic nature of this study. A principal theoretical perspective for this investigation is the public relations concept of reputation management. It has long been consider ed that a good reputation is based upon favorable relationships with stakeholders (Deephouse, 2000). But it is only in the last 10 years that public relations practitioners and those engaged in academic studies in the field have begun to pay attention


47 to this issue as it relates to a corporations public image (Hutton, Goodman, Alexander and Genest, 2001). The study also looks at journalistic concerns about objectivity and credibility with an exploratory look at framing of AJE in the news me dia as a part of this research. Credibility and objectivity are key reputation concerns for the news media (Blumenthal, 2007; Cunningham, 2003). Procedures The classic case study focuses on single enti ties, but can combine many different methods of data collecting, incl uding interviews and observation (Eisenhardt, 1989). Interviews are one of the most important sources of case st udy information and while interviews may take different forms, in this investigation, the format used is that of the qualitative, open-ended, semistructured interview, permitting respondent s to share their insights (Tellis, 1997). Tellis (1997) refers to Yin (1994) and Stake (1995) in outlining th e sources of evidence in case studies, including documents, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant-observation, and physic al artifacts. For th is study of AJE, the primary sources of evidence are interviews and ne wspaper articles. Additional da ta was gained through field observation, by time spent observing procedur es in AJEs newsroom and control room. Secondary evidence was also gathered through the reading of additional newspaper and magazine articles as well as the viewing of broa dcast news reports and visits to AJE's YouTube channel. These are the primary tools utilized in this investigation of AJE and the way the network has handled its issues of reputation manageme nt. The case study research method gives the investigator an opportunity for deeper understanding of what has taken place and what may transpire (Yin, 2003). This study also utilized an inductive, text -driven content analysis, examining news coverage in a sampling of national U.S. ne wspapers between June 15, 2006 and January 15, 2008


48 a period of time, covering the pre-launch, la unch and post-launch period. For reasons of manageability, the study was limited to news papers found through a LexisNexis Academic search. The research analyzed how AJE was framed in the news reports about the network through the content analysis. A qualitative appr oach was adopted because of the exploratory nature of the study, allowing the researcher to make decisions about language, text and vocabulary utilized to establish the frame as well as the inclusion or exclusion of content. While there is much to be said about framing and its importance in analyz ing news coverage, that is not the primary purpose of this research, other than to take an exploratory look at how this comes into play in terms of AJEs re putation management initiatives. Some acknowledgement of the theory or c oncept of triangulation also needs to be acknowledged since both in this case study, both interviews and a te xt-driven content analysis of newspaper articles were utilized to examine the reputation management issues confronted by AJE. Patton (2002) wrote that triangulation strengthens a study by combining methods," a concept with which this researcher obviously agrees since more than one research methodology was utilized. Qualitative Interviews Lindlof and Taylor (2002) define the qualita tive interv iew as a way to get information from socially situated speakers (p. 172). It is up to the researcher to bring purpose to the interview and find people who can make a contribu tion to the investigatio n. The qualitative, indepth open-ended approach toward interviewing also allows for greater leeway in participant responses to questions (L indlof and Taylor, 2002; Marshall and Rossman, 1999). Adhering to the concept that an in-depth interview is a conversation with a purpose, these conversations can have multiple purposes (Lincoln and Guba, 1985) that can include:


49 Here and now constructions of persons, ev ents, activities, organizations, feelings, motivations, claims, concerns and other enti ties; reconstruction of such entities as experienced in the past; [and] projections of such entities as they are expected to be experienced in the future. (p. 268) A series of qualitative interviews were c onducted at the Al Jaz eera News Centre in Washington, D.C. over a three-day period in October 2007. Decision-makers and key on-air presenters, producers, correspondents, and execu tives were interviewed. The investigation consists of 12 qualitative, in-d epth open-ended interviews with AJE journalists, AJE executives and two other participants who ha ve a professional relationship w ith AJE. Eight interviews were conducted face-to-face; four others were done via the telephone. The interviews were conversations (Kvale, 1996), that followed the constructs of the accepted norms for in-depth, qual itative research interviews with an emphasis on open-ended questions in a semi-structured format to elicit the best responses (G illham, 2000; Lindlof and Taylor, 2002). The conversations we re structured with the interv iews focused on the network, its reputation, and the challenges it f aces breaking into the U.S. market. But each interview was unique as might be expected in these extended discussions that va ried based on the interviewees available time, area of interest, and/or expertis e and particular person ality traits (Rubin and Rubin, 2005). The interviews aimed to elicit difference pe rspectives on AJEs re putation management challenges. All of the interviewees held high-lev el positions at U.S., Ca nadian, or British media outlets prior to joining AJE, one of the reasons the researcher s ought to interview each of them. Lindlof (1995) explained, Often a researcher will interview pers ons only if their experience is central to the research problem in some way. Th ey may be recruited for their expert insight, because they represent a certain status or categor y or because of critical events in which they have participated (p.167 ). This was certainly the case here. Each interview was audio taped with


50 the consent of the interviewees and later tran scribed. This followed the research protocol approved by the Universitys Institutional Review Board. Sampling Technique Interviewees were chosen by purposive sa m pling technique. The pool of potential interviewees was not a large one since by design it was confined to professional journalists or AJE executives working specifically for the netw ork in Washington, D.C. The field was further narrowed by accessibility; some of those whom the researcher had hoped to interview were traveling or not otherwis e available during the time research was conducted. The investigator also made a conscious decision to seek out particular people based on the positions they occupied within the organization as well as their past experiences as journalists or executives with Western news organizations prior to joining AJE. Some rapport with the interviewees was anticipated and achieved beca use of the researchers previous professional experience as a journalist. Sample Description The researcher in terviewed eight people in face-to-face sessions at the Al Jazeera Englishs Washington offices; two other AJE re spondents by telephone and two others with a professional relationship with AJE, also by tele phone and by email. The nationalities of the AJE respondents are British, American, South Af rican, Israeli and Canadian. Three are correspondents and/or news presenters; one is a show host and a member of the AJE board of directors; another is news executi ve, four are producers; and the last is a marketing and business executive. Also included in this count is the owner of the cable company that has AJE on its lineup and an account executive for the public relations firm representing AJE. All AJE personnel have decision-making responsibilities. A ll but one worked with major U.S., Canadian or British television networks prior to joining AJE. The sole exception in terms of previous,


51 professional experience was a respondent who wa s a public information officer for the U.S. military before taking an on-air position with AJE. Nearly all are at least 20-year veterans of the news business; only two of those interviewed had been in the profession for a shorter time. The respondents are primarily in th eir 30s and 40s, although one part icipant is in his 60s. Interview Procedures Sim ilar, but not identical questions were aske d of all participants who were regarded as conversational partners, more than as inte rviewees (Rubin and Rubin, 2005). There was a variance in the conversations b ecause of time constraints (some respondents had more time than others for the interview), and differences in personal background, style or professional experiences encountered before joining AJE. Although it may be true that asking the exact same questions of all participants br ings greater efficiency of info rmation gathering (Lindlof, 1995), this research required a certain conversationa l flexibility. Responsive interviewers recognize that each conversational partner has a distinct set of experiences a different construction of the meaning of those experiences and different ar eas of expertise (Rubi n and Rubin, 2005, p. 34). In addition, the in-depth interview method is based on the belief that because the respondents may have expertise in their field, they have the most to offer in terms of relevant observations and commentary (Austin & Pinkleton, 2006; Broom & Dozier, 1990). Throughout each interview, the researcher engage d in active listening using both the verbal and non verbal dimensions of listening (Gillham 2000; Lindlof and Taylor, 2002). The research interviews aimed to elicit insi ghts about AJE successes based on five of the six components of the Reputation Quotient Index (Fombrun & Van Riel, 2004). Through a collaboration with Harris Interactive, Fombruns Reputation Institute me asures six components of corporate reputation emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership,


52 workplace environment, social responsibility, an d financial performance. The latter was not a factor in regard to AJE, for reas ons which will be discussed later. Analysis of Interviews Content analysis is the study of record ed hum an communications (Babbie, 2001). Research methods and analysis can be applied to books, magazine s, newspapers, letters, movies, television shows, and more. While content anal ysis can and often does take a quantitative approach, the researcher opt ed for a text-driven study. A content analysis of the interviews was performed using the search functions of Microsoft Word. The researcher looked for particular words or phrases that might have been utilized in the responses to the interview questions. Words included in the search were: credibility, news coverage, objectivity, derivatives of terror (i.e. terrorist, terrorism); reputation and news agenda. Using an inducti ve, analytical approach, the re searcher identified substantive statements made by each interviewee as they pe rtained to reputation management concerns and categorized them. (Gillham, 2000, p.59). For example, all felt that the hiring of journalists who had previous experience working for established, reputable, Western ne ws organizations was a plus in terms of AJEs corporate reputation. All the AJE staffers also addressed the differences in news perspective that AJE offers and the comm itment to more in-depth news coverage. The researcher also made note of the enthusiasm manifested by the respondents when talking about their jobs and the network. Comments were ca tegorized according to these themes, with new categories created as necessary to be included in the research findings. Inductive, Text-Driven Content Analysis The purpose of the inductive, text-driven conten t analysis was to see how coverage of AJE was fra med by major U.S. newspapers. Through such an analysis, the researcher can judge how the presence or absence of information can create meaning (Perkins, 2005). It is a given that the


53 media does frame issues (Price, Tewksbury & Powers, 1997) but it is equally true that often the reader or audience is unaware of what is taking place (Gitlin, 1980). In this case, the framing study, approached as a text-driven content analysis, looks at message s as they are structured in newspaper articles (Reese, 2001) app earing in the research sample. Inductive Research and Framing Inductive research is based on a process of reasoning that starts with knowledge about specific facts and m oves to form general suppositions Data is collected that is relevant to the topic and is grouped accor dingly; with explanations making themselves apparent based on the information collected (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). This qualitative framing analysis stemmed from the researchers desire to know more about the United States media perception of AJE. The research followed an approach described by Lofl and and Lofland (1995) to begin with an openended and open-minded desire to kn ow a social situation or setting; the data and yourself as an agent of induction guide you in the task of emer gently formulating one or more propositions(p. 185). It was in this spirit that the researchers qua litative framing analysis was conducted. Maher (2001) writes that framing is a difficu lt concept to measure. Konig (n.d.) concurs, providing a plethora of exampl es of qualitative framing st udies that failed to divulge measurement criteria. Price, Tewksbury and Powers (1997) identify three basic themes or news frames that underlie most news stories in th e U.S. media conflict, human interest and consequence (p. 484-485). Iyengar takes the news framing discussion a st ep further by breaking down the way television frames news as either episodi c, that is dealing with a specific incident or news event, or as thematic, looki ng at the bigger picture. What is said about television is equally applicable to the print media in the context of the AJE framing anal ysis undertaken here. In the context of this research, human inte rest or consequence ne ws frames might be applicable as would be thematic frames looking at the bigger picture (press freedom) in terms of


54 AJE in the United States. However, the research er agrees with the perspective put forward by Wu (2006) that news discourse, as a particular type of public discour se, is subjective to individual interpretation (p.254). Framing of AJE by the News Media A representative sam pling of newspaper stor ies was conducted using text-driven content analysis. It starts as a kind of fishing expediti on, since the researcher is simply looking to see what is out there (Krippendorff 1980, p.170). But text-driven conten t analysis is determined by the availability of text s with enough material to stimulate th e researchers interest (Krippendorf, 2004). As a point of departure for content analysis of news stories de aling with reputation management issues confronting AJE, in the br ief time that elapsed since its November 2006 inception, this method is quite suitable. AJE has been framed in the news media by the very language that President Bush and others in his administration have used in thei r attacks against the Arabic language Al Jazeera. Examples of often-used master frames with a negative perspective include derivatives of the word terror, terror TV, mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden, anti-American propaganda and other catch-phrases and concepts that elicit deroga tory views of the network. Master frames were identified based on key words and phrases such as different perspectiv e, derivatives of the word, terror, as well as the appearance of word s like objective, credible and fair that might have to do with the networks reputation manageme nt concerns or speak to the AJE view of the news it delivers. Other master frames coming from the perspective of AJE itself might include setting the news agenda, providing a voice for th e voiceless, other perspectives, or view from the developing world that speak to the AJE view of the news it delivers.


55 Sampling and Data Collection Data f or this analysis were retrieved from the online LexisNexis database using the search term or keywords Al Jazeera Eng lish. The study covered a time period from Nov. 15, 2006 to January 15, 2008. That time frame was select ed to cover the period immediately prior to the network launch on Nov. 15, 2006, to see what coverage AJE might have obtained as it readied to go on air; the launch itself; and th en through the remainder of 2006, all of 2007 and the first two weeks of January 2008 because of the intrinsic natu re of the case study research approach. LexisNexis listed 1,000 hits for Al Jazeera E nglish in the sample. In the newspaper category, the area of interest for this analysis, 457 newspaper articles were found. A total of 79 newspaper articles were determined to be releva nt based on a cursory look at the story headline which indicated the story was about Al Jazeera English. For example, a story headlined: Al Jazeera English: What it is and isnt, that was published in The New York Times was included as relevant because the indication was the st ory was actually about the network. Another Washington Post story headlined Police Recruits kill ed in Iraq, U.S. Death Toll for October hits 83 was not, on the expectation th at the story was about some thing else, with a possible reference to AJE in the text as an informational source. Unit of Analysis The unit of analys is was each single article a nd/or editorial or opinion piece related to the coverage of AJE network in spec ific newspaper. Initially, the researcher had intended to limit study of coverage of AJE to five U.S. newspapers with a national audience The New York Times the Washington Post The Wall Street Journal the Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today There was particular interest in The New York Times and the Washington Post which are considered to be national newspapers of reco rd. However, the study was expanded to include


56 coverage of AJE by newspapers in other major urban centers to broaden the sample after a preliminary search showed only a limited number of stories done about AJE by the previously mentioned newspapers. Those citi es and newspapers include the Boston Globe The San Francisco Chronicle The Atlanta Journal and Constitution The Houston Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times. The other five newspapers were chosen because they are located in major urban centers and are generally consid ered newspapers whose names are recognized throughout the United States. There was also a research interest in exploring coverage about AJE by media in different regions of the nation. The study was limited to these U.S. media to keep the investigation manageable and because the focus of the research was to see how AJE was framed by major U.S. newspapers in their coverage of the network. The researcher opted to exclude coverage about AJE in international newspapers from Western Europ ean capitals and other periodicals of global importance because the analysis was focused speci fically on coverage by key newspapers in the United States. Framing Analysis Procedures Each article was read by the res earcher to de termine if it was relevant to this framing analysis. An article was judged to be relevant if it wa s about AJE itself and did not merely cite AJE as a news source. In all, a total of 24 articles were found to be relevant; nine from The New York Times; three from the Washington Post; one from The Christian Science Monitor; four from USA Today; four from The Boston Globe; one from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution; two from The San Francisco Chronicle; and none from The Houston Chronicle or The Los Angeles Times. The LexisNexis entry for The Los Angeles Times only included entries from the last six months and no relevant articles were found. The Wall Street Journal only posts abstracts on LexisNexis; the abstracts of the two articles listed were not relevant to the research.


57 Relevant articles were read in order to iden tify meaningful news fr ames, both of a positive and negative nature. The researcher looked for ke y words, catch-phrases and concepts previously detailed. In addition, the resear cher made subjective determina tions as to whether the story appeared to be favorably or unfavorably disposed toward the network. These determinations were based on the text, interviews, headline and ge neral slant of the story. As was the case with the analysis of the interviews, new categories were created as necessar y. The results of this qualitative analysis will be expl ained in the findings section.


58 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Strategies AJE Employs to Establish a Po sitive Reputation in the United States An analysis of participant res ponses revealed a consistency of them es to describe the way the network is confronting its reputation manage ment issues in the United States. Positive themes mentioned by all respondent s included, but were not limited to reversing news flow from south to north; providing a voice to the voiceless ; in-depth reporting from typically uncovered regions of the world; contextual objectivity, cred ibility and ethics, and demystifying the channel by the recruitment and retention of journali sts who have already made a reputation for themselves in the West. All the respondents were quick to utilize the catchphrases that are part of the networks rationale; more than half provide d some deeper insights about why they feel the way they do about working for AJE. Words and phrases frequently used in the in terviews included, but were not limited to, in-depth content, context, determine own news agenda, setting the news agenda, reverse news flow, other parts of the world, and going slower, and giving a voice to the voiceless. Other words and phrases that came up in the conversations were staying away from parachute journalism, demystifying the channe l, reputation for doing good stories, proud, ethical, fighting against stereotype, credibility, and veteran journalists. The consensus was that doing good journalism is the best way for AJE to establish itself as a serious, reputable news organization. The se ntiment expressed by all was that the work of the AJE news team speaks for itself, and that the credible and in-depth journalistic reports the journalistic team delivers does more to enhance the networks image than any public relations campaign could do. The respondents expressed an opi nion that working for AJE is more than a job. In the words of one participant:


59 Why do we like to work here ? If you are somebody who likes news, you will love working at this channel because we do news. For somebody who wants infotainment, this is probably not the channel to watch or where you want to be working. Reversing the News Flow from South to North/Providing a Voice to the Voiceless All respondents provided examples from th eir own on-the-ground experiences that they believe speak to the credibility and seriousness of Al Jazeera English as well as its commitment to a more diverse and equalitarian perspective on the news as it reverses the flow from south to north and provides a voice for the voiceless. The shared belief seems to be that through the kind of international, in-depth re porting AJE is building its reputation as a news source of record and as a place to go to get the news that will not be carried by other media organizations. One respondent explained AJE intends to set the news agenda for others to follow by altering the direction of the gl obal news flow from the devel oping to the developed world and giving those traditionally at the bottom of the news pyramid a chance to be heard. As the first non-western English-language international news network, AJE comes to the table with a far different perspective than its predecessors of th e West, in the words of Riz Khan, a member of AJEs board of directors and the host of an interactive, intervie w program that bears his name. He was succinct in his description of what he describes as the signature difference between AJE and other international news networks: Other ch annels show the missiles being fired; we show them landing." Later in the conversation, he went on to add: One thing about the channel, its doing what internationa l channels should be doing. If thats pioneering, its kind of ironic or sad. We should be co vering the world. What were doing is filling a gap doing what internationa l channels should be doing. and that is going out there and covering the stories from parts of the world where it isnt being covered. Military affairs and special re ports correspondent Josh Rushin g interpreted this as being the voice of the underdog. Rushing is the former United States Marine public affairs officer who was featured in Control Room, the 2004 documentary about the Arabic language Al


60 Jazeera, and its coverage of the war in Iraq. He described the news programming put out by AJE like this: Our slogan is setting the news agenda. What does that mean? From the reporter perspective it is not setting anything, just telling the story, telling what happens. It is a way of telling the untold story. We will look at a situati on and say, here is the way all the Western media will cover it. We show what war l ooks like from the Iraqi perspective, the perspective of the Iraqi people. In that way, set a new agenda for that conflict. Another respondent, interview producer Di ane Hodges who books guests for AJE, said the networks commitment is evident by the way it focuses more of its resources on developing countries, in Africa, South America and Asia. We show less of what is going on in London and Washington, and more of what is going on in Jerusalem, Cairo and Dubai. Another respondent talked about offering that fresh perspect ive, once again utilizing the catch-phrase of setti ng the news agenda. The participant gave this example: Darfur for example is a story heavily missed in the United States. For us to say we were going to go in there, that was a big help. We could set the news agenda by saying there are stories out there, that you s hould know about and these are as much a part of the news agenda as a speech from the White House. Celebrity Journalism and the Dazzle Factor All but one of the respondents m ade particular mention of the fact that AJE steers away from celebrity news. For example, when Anna Nicole Smith died in February 2007, there was never a mention of her death or the ensuing de bate over who fathered her child or where she should be buried on AJE. In the word s of executive producer Joanne Levine: The day that Anna Nicole Smith died. I didn t even know she was dead. Our top story was how Fatah and Hamas had come to agreement for a unity government and we didnt even touch Anna Nicole Smith. Like Levine, Hodges considers the lack of celeb rity news another plus. AJE also differs from some networks, like CNN, in showing NO entertainment/celebrity news and doesnt miss


61 having to line up stories about people like Angelina Jolie or Jim Ca rrey. All respondents agreed with those opinions. In addition to ignoring celebrity happen ings, correspondent Anand Naidoo said AJE focuses on substance in its news reports instead of what he described as the busyness of other 24-hour news channels. He called it the dazzle factor the ability to be ab le to put up satellites very quickly, to get signals very quickly, to use very fancy graphi cs, to use very quick and sharp onscreen production tools, but they dont necessarily add to the understanding of the story. It just looks great. Its more Star Wars than news. In-Depth Reporting and Contextual Objectivity When President Bush visited Latin Amer ica in March, 2007 the AJE correspondent who covered that trip did a wrap story, a story th at wraps up coverage of an event. Then correspondent Viviana Hurtado chose to do her piece in Uruguay, by following around a trash collector. And who might be more voiceless than a man who picks up the garbage for a living? She recollected the trip in this way: I think that one of the things that we do is probably take a step back and ask the question, why does this matter to the world? What are the stakes? Not just me reporting in Washington or the Americas, but why is this important to someone who is watching in Malaysia or Algeria or Russia? And when you take that step back, and ask that question, it makes you look for connections that just arent there right away. Or in the word of another respondent, it is simply a matter of putting world events in their proper place not just for a middle-class U.S. audience, but for a global one. For example, when the Virginia Tech massacres occurred in Ap ril 2007, AJE covered that story, but did not necessarily lead with i t; in fact long after other reporters ha d wrapped up their stories, AJEs man on the scene was still waiting to get to air. That was because on that day, for AJE, the Virginia Tech story came after bombings in Baghdad, the Ni gerian presidential el ections and fighting in Mogadishu. In the words of correspondent Rushing:


62 Its a bias that says that wh ats happening in Africa may be just as important, if not more important, than whats happening in Hollyw ood. On a week where the news mentions hardly anything but Anna Nicole Smith, there are events happening around the world. I bet [people in war torn areas] wish they had a life where it could matter who Anna Nicole Smiths babys daddy is. They dont have th e luxury of wondering who Anna Nicole Smiths babys daddy is. They dont have th e luxury of caring about Paris Hilton. All but one of the respondents mentioned cont ext or contextual objectivity, in some fashion. One respondent said: The stories are told in a very compelling way. Its not soundbite journalismits much more than that. The wider focus carries over into sports, where sports correspondent Brendan Connor said sports coverage is about more than the big four of football, basketball, hockey or ba sketball; but can include a look at a soccer club in Argentina or Sweden, a Chinese girls baseball t eam or a Brazilian beach volleyball star. Demystifying the Channel Many of AJEs better-known journalists, am ong them some of the research participants, are public spokespeople for the netw ork. To a person, all said they were attracted to the idea of working for a start-up network and several likened it to being a pa rt of CNN when that network first started. All said they considered the fact that so many already established journalists had joined the network to be a reputation enhancer. Or as one participant put it: That helps the reputation and to make people more comfortabl e with the organization and to make it more palatable and to make it better known. Why did they make the move? One respondent said: something like this is never going to happen again, at least in my lifetime. Another participant found the idea exciting and a ch ance to be part of jour nalisms cutting edge. Brown, Lloyd & James, (BLJ hereafter), the official agency of record for Al Jazeera Englishs public relations efforts, builds much of its reputation mana gement strategy around the type of news coverage offered by the network as well as its successes in recruiting and retaining top notch journalists with estab lished reputations. One respondent likened what BLJ is doing as


63 working to demystify the channel to show th at we are not devils with horns and tails. Rushing compared it to buying a brand. There was a credibility issue in the beginning. By hiring me, they bought a brand, which is quintessentially American. How can we be an ti-American if we are hiring Josh? They didnt say that, but thats what they bought when they got me. With David Frost, Sir David Frost, they got credibility; instant journalist ic credibility. Riz Khan all the reporters. Those people brought their credibility with them. Its an amazing brand. Rushing makes for good TV. He is personable, pleasant-looking and knows how to talk soundbites. He comes across as sincere and stra ight-forward. He is a good spokesperson for the network an excellent choice to carry ou t one of BLJs principa l tactics for reputation management. On its bulleted web page case study of AJE, the agency says it identified key spokespeople for the organization and undertook a se ries of interviews, profiles and features within their respective fields of expertise." A nd who better than a journa list who is already used to being on camera professionals who already knows how to walk to walk and talk the talk of a good media interview. Another good tactical choice to sing the praises of the netw ork to a U.S. audience is Washington anchor Dave Marash. Gruff, grayi ng and garrulous, Marash is also a JewishAmerican. He has garnered a good d eal of the attention in the U.S. not just because of who he is but also because of who he was at Ni ghtline correspondent and Ted Koppels second-incommand. Does it help that Marash is Jewish? Probably. Oy vey, how can it hurt? He said: Youd have to ask the people who hired me. My gue ss is cosmetically, it was appealing. You know, whats a nice Jewish boy like you doing working for Al Jazeera? The logic of that makes sense, but frankly I doubt it, I think they were hiring the news guy not the Jewish news guy.


64 To What Extent These Strategies Are Working In term s of word of mouth or buzz, it would appear there is defin itely something to be said for AJEs reputation management efforts. If the adage that the only bad publicity is no publicity still holds, then AJE is definitely getting its name out there perhaps not always as it would like, but still with more perspective on the networks ne ws content rather than on its image as terrorist TV as the findings from the framing analysis that follows would appear to indicate. In the words of one respondent: I th ink as were out and a bout more, the reputation, the negative reputation is being challenged. The fact that high profile AJE journalists ar e also speaking out public ly on behalf of the network is another plus. Its not so much that these journalists are buying the party line, but that they are the party, so to speak. In other words, th ey are known as credible journalists, continue to do credible journalism and so are helping to build AJEs reputation as a credible news organization. That they are willing to act as public spokesmen for the network can only help. Frost, Khan, Marash, Rushing, and even AJE Bur eau Chief Will Stebbins are not just available for media interviews, but also participants in pane l discussions, guest lect urers at universities and even appear as guests on network talk shows. But with cable and satellite distribution in the United States still elusive, altering perceptions about the network remain s difficult. One respondent said: Were not seen here. I do a fair amount of pub lic speaking. But until we can really be seen, until we can be seen on a real way going to be hard to change that perception. When we launched, we got rave reviews from The New York Times to the Detroit Free Press saying we should be watched. But if you cant be seen, you cant combat that. AJE appears to have broadened its reach in its ability to attract newsmakers and commentators to appear as gue sts on AJE news shows and other programs. During a follow-up conversation, one respondent said AJE snagge d Democratic and Republican legislators for


65 commentary following President Bushs state of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2008. The respondent also noted that a da y later, the network lined up Re publican consultant Roger Stone for three hours of political commenta ry on the Florida primary election. Cable and Satellite Distribution In term s of cable and satellite carriage in the United States, at the time of this writing, the reputation management strategies of AJE did not appear to be having an impact. Viewership in the United States was still limited to the Penta gon, the State Department and a smattering of other viewers in the Capitol; a small municipa l carrier in Burlington, Vermont and the Toledo, Ohio-based Buckeye Cable System. Buckeye pla ced AJE on its lineup in the spring of 2007. The respondent, Allan Block, who is chairman of the board of the cable company said: We carry the channel because it deserves to be carried. We reviewed the quality of the channel before we decided to cover it. It has people from American and British broadcasting who are very well known. Block noted that his company has carried the Chinese news channel, CCTV and that putting AJE on his lineup is no different. But at the time of this writing, no other large or medium-sized U.S. cable or satellite companie s have joined Buckeye in giving AJE a spot. All the AJE respondents expressed concern that the network is not being seen in the United States. About half of the re spondents placed some of the blame on AJE management for not understanding the way the market works in the United States. One respondent noted: You have to go and sell the channel in the United States; it s not like everyone is going to ask for it, thats just the way it is. Another commented on what might be cultural misunderstandings about how the U.S. market really f unctions. A third respondent said: There are two levels of management. Some times I worry about the public relations strategies. First year, they said, were not in the 'States', who cares? But when you are in the States, the States is the biggest deal in the world. Now, finall y, theres a push to get carriage in the United States.


66 One respondent said the launch of another comp eting network at the same time might have had an impact. There was a National Geographic channel launch and that was very large. And then this one. And it was hey guys National Geographic had $400 or $500 million dollars to [spend] to get distribution in the United States Another expressed hope that a management decision to hire former Turner Broadcasting System distribution executive Phil Lawrie to become AJEs director of global distribution would help. Lawrie was brought on board in September 2007. AJE and YouTube Currently, th e Internet is Al J azeera Englishs main U.S. distribution outlet. Thats where YouTube comes in. AJE is making headway on Youtube, where it has launched a branded channel on the popular video-sharing website. Th e researcher reviewed information posted on the AJE Youtube page, which showed the ch annel has made the top 100 of most-viewed Youtube channels in several different categories just seven months after its launch there. A majority of respondents said YouTube is a good vehicle for the network in the United States. One participant said: Youtube is proba bly helping. People who are interested will go to see it. One respondent said he sends YouTube links to AJE to friends and acquaintances. The network is not airing all its programmi ng on YouTube but it is showcasing some of what it considers its best offerings including segments from shows like Frost over the World with host David Frost and Khans interactive in terview show. One respondent said YouTube gives the network an alternat ive distribution scheme. About half the respondents said interactivity via the intern et is helping the channel establish a name for itself in the United States One respondent cited the instant feedback that can be gleaned from AJEs YouTube branded cha nnel as something that is helping the network appeal to a broader audience. Another respondent said being in ternet savvy is enhancing the


67 networks reputation by showcasing an ability to use the latest technology to communicate with an audience. Khan described it as a disruptiv e brand character that is popular with young people. They look for something that is disrup tive and new. These are all things that the younger generation knows arent established mechanisms. Thousands of comments have been posted on You Tube on the Al Jazeera English what do you think? link to the channel. The research ers cursory review of comments posted on two days in January 2008 showed most seemed to be favorable. Liked the Clooney special with Frost David Sir, wrote one person. Im on al Jazeera everyday. I come home a nd watch. I even watch The Fabulous Picture show every Saturday morning. Sometimes I skip school to watch, wr ote another. And from a third, Al Jazeera is much better than BBC. A fourth person wrote T his is how reporting shoul d be done. How I wish that Al Jazeera one day will be available on cable service, wrote another. And finally, in the words of one YouTube commentato r, Al Jazeera is Kick Ass. There were no negative comments about AJE posted on the two days monitored (Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, 2008) although there were some de rogatory statements posted about ongoing political events that were covered by the network. Guest Perspectives One of the ways AJE seem s to be getting past its reputation as a terro rist network is in the guest bookings arena. One respondent said th at initially, conservati ve commentators were reluctant to accept invitations to appear on AJE but that appears to be changing. Another participant referred to the partic ipation of conservative commenta tors during AJEs coverage of President Bushs State of the Union address. Hodges, who works in guest bookings, said she sends prospective guests clippings about the network and makes certain they know AJE is viewed in Israel.


68 The first thing people think is supporting Bin La den and the second is that all the Israelis must hate it. So I wanted to try and dispel those notions. For example, AJE is possibly most watched English language network in Israel. Half of the respondents concurred that with the passage of time, public officials are saying yes more frequently to interview reque sts. One respondent noted comments made by aides to Democratic Sen. Barak Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain when they turned down requests for AJE interviews. The participan t said the network was told by aides to both U.S. presidential candidates that the only thing that is keeping them off AJE now is not concerns about AJEs reputation, but rather the fact that that the network still isnt seen much in the United States making it not worth their political while to take time out for an interview with AJE. Reputation Quotient Index Finally, to judge the success level of AJE re putation management strategies we will look to the categories established under the Fombrun-Harris Reputation Quotient Index to help draw some conclusions. Emotional Appeal All respondents agreed that AJE itself and the program s it airs do have an emotional appeal to those who seek it out in the United St ates. Respondents agreed that because most AJE viewers are educated and politic ally engaged, the appeal may be based on the fact that AJE covers regions and countries th at are not usually covered by other international networks. Another noted the pull of the internet. A third commented: If you are somebody who likes news, you will love this channel because we do nothing but news. Another commented that travel abroad often converts U.S. citizens to the network. In the words of another participant: anyone who actually goes and sees us when they are overseas, watching from their hotel room, loves the programming and our rang e of news. They love what they see. One respondent, an


69 Israeli national said: when my parents are in the U.S., they are afraid to watch it [AJE]; when they are in Israel, they see it all the time. Another said there is also an emotional appeal to AJE simply because its new and is non-western in origin. Khan said: People connect with somethi ng thats been missing up to now. Plus young people want to be part of something that is different. Sometim es if they are told something is oddball or something they are not used to, they like it. Th e connection comes from the fact that it is something new. That appeals to a younger audience. Senior anchor Marash said AJEs global approach also has an emotional appeal because the majority of AJEs viewers are out there in the world and what they are seeing is news of them, by them and for them. American news and even CNN or BBC tends to be all about us. Wh at are Americans doing in Existan, or what is happening in Oslav ia that may impact on Americans. Whereas in Al Jazeera, we talk about what is happening to the people there. Their interest in the story and its often reported by people in the region, who are very good at portraying the regions stake, rather than as cogs in a Western-run wheel. Products and Services All the respondents sa id they were proud of their work at the channel and felt that their type of news reporting is winning som e respect. Its program, Everywoman, which focuses on womens issues, was awarded the "Editors' Award" by the Association of International Broadcasting. It also got the prize for "Best Si ngle News Report" for its story on Agent Orange at the 12th Asian Television Awards in Singapore (Al J azeera English, 2007). Prize-winning programs and stories certainly mean recognition by industry peers, and help boost AJEs image, tearing down mispercepti ons with an excellent product. Marash said working at AJE is exactly what he anticipated, one reason he is so comfortable talking up the network during interviews or public speaking ap pearances. I have to say, among the many pleasures of working here is th at our product is exactly as prom ised, exactly what was described to me when I was hired and exactly what I was selling to prospective viewers and cable system


70 carriers before launch. Anothe r respondent, a show producer said : On American news stations, the people who are on TV are called talent. Its not how journalistic they are, but how talented they are at delivering the product. Our guy [in Pakist an] is not talent. He is who he is because of his contacts. He doesnt ha ve the $10.000 teeth and cosmetic makeover and thats fine. Thats what makes this channel different. All participants agreed the selection and trea tment of stories and the choices being made editorially are all part of building a product and building th e reputation. One participant commented: The places we are reporting from and the stories we are telling. I sit at my desk with AJE on all day and I stop and go, wow! I am proud of the product a nd I am proud of my colleagues. Workplace Environment Included in this look at workplace environm ent are comm ents about professional risks that accepting a job with AJE might entail as well as a perceived desire among many working journalists in the United States to take part in the AJE experience. About half categorized the work environment as a positive one. One respondent said he gets about two dozen resumes a month from former colleagues wanting to work at AJE. Another mentioned that during one week in October 2007, he received th ree resumes from former collea gues at a network where he had worked. The researcher believes the fact that there are so many journalists out there who apparently would like an opportunity to work with AJE is an indication of a good reputation. However, that does not mean there are not cert ain professional or pe rsonal risks involved in accepting a job with AJE. About half the resp ondents detailed some concerns about coming to work for the network. Levine said some news sources wont be interviewed by her AJE journalists. She wrote an impassioned op-ed in the Washington Post in June 2006 about the trials and tribulations of working for AJE. Her piece talked about the experiences of two staffers,


71 one of whom was dropped by an adoption agency previously used and another who had two rental applications rejected when the name of their new employer was mentioned. One respondent said he thought carefully befo re accepting a position at AJE. I had the obvious concerns, the connotation th at goes with the name. I had to learn more about the mission of this new English channel. One respondent sa id she has not told many of her relatives or neighbors exactly where she works because they would say its a terrorist network". Another said he was apprehensive at first because his wife works at the Voice of America, although he said his spouse suffered no repercussions when she advised her employer of her husbands new position and said no concern was expre ssed by management officials there. Is AJE gaining a reputation as a good place to work? Perhaps. Again, half of the respondents said former colleagues were constan tly asking them about job possibilities at AJE and two said they often received resumes from their peers. Although some respondents praised the fantastic work environment and the ap preciation toward staff shown by management, others expressed an opinion that there are still some challenges on the job in terms of blending cultures, work styles and even television terminology. Vision and Leadership Half of the respondents m entioned the fact that the network has a code of ethics posted on its website (Al Jazeera English) as a demonstr ation of vision and leadership by making public a standard of measurement. Another refers to th e code as proof of the transparency of the network. To the best of the re searchers knowledge, AJE is the only television news network to display an ethical code on its we bsite and for two-thirds of respondents said this served as a kind of morale leadership. Respondent references to journalistic values and AJE catch-phrases referred to earlier in this chapter were cited as the way the network was using its vision and leadership as a reputation management tool One respondent summed it up like this: The


72 leadership is a good one because the slogan is se tting the news agenda. What does that mean? From the reporter perspective, it means we are not setting anything, just tell ing what happens. It is a way of expressing it, is sowing leadership in the news world by getting untold stories out there. Social Responsibility None of the respondents viewed the prom otion of corporate acts of social responsibility as a function of AJE although there was a general sense among a majority of participants that the network does act responsibly based on the info rmation it disseminates. As one respondent put it: We are not there for that. Its not the network s responsibility. It ce rtainly does disseminate information. And if the background for that means people see it (AJE) as socially responsible, thats great. But that is not the main purpose of the channel. The main purpose of the channel is to disseminate information in a very objective way and as widely as possible. Its public service broadcasting. Financial Performance Funding for AJE is provided by the E mir of Qata r. Because of that fact, none of the respondents thought financial performance was a f actor in building AJEs reputation. Khan said at this point in time, AJE is not profit-driven. Brady said at least for now, AJE is not looking to advertisers as a source of money. So as a measur e, the RQI is not releva nt in terms of judging AJEs corporate reputation ba sed on financial performance. Where questions could arise is whether news coverage is dictated by the one who pays the bills. All respondents said that from their pe rspectives, the Emir does not interfere with the way AJE covers the news. Half of the responde nts described the financial arrangements as having some similarities to the relationship by wh ich National Public Radio (NPR) or the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is f unded. One respondent commented:


73 Having a kind of state mandate, a kind of public broadcasting mandate, means were not so desperate we arent worri ed about commercial success. Ultimately, we do have to develop some kind of commercial structure and grow it, but for now we can focus on what most of us got into the business for, concen trating on the story and the editorial content. Summary The general assessm ent of AJE respondents and those outside the network who were also interviewed is that the network is establishing a reputation for credible and in-depth journalism. Respondents ignore the terror TV label as they go about their day-to-day work. The YouTube relationship is getting AJE noticed within the Un ited States; where it appears to be getting a positive reception from those who see AJE online. However, it must be taken into account that generally people who seek their news from the Internet are better educated and may have a broader world view. It is proba ble that most of those people who are watching AJE online made a particular effort to seek it out and may not be typical of the br oader U.S. audience that might be exposed to AJE if it was available on cable or satellite TV. How the U.S. News Media Framed AJE When the network launched, USA Today editorialized the new English version of AlJazeera could have a pos itive impact, by exposing Americans to different points of view and perhaps by tempering the Arabic version (N ov. 15, 2006). That article provoked a question in the mind of the researcher as to how other media in the Unit ed States might view AJE and prompted a text-driven content an alysis to identify frames. Initially, master frames were categorized based on key words and phrases such as different perspective derivatives of the word, terror, as well as the appearance of words like objective, credible and fair that might have to do with th e networks reputation management concerns. Other key words that the networ k often uses to describe itself such as fearless, cover the untold story and cover the developing world were taken into account. These


74 frames can be more broadly defined as AJE news coverage and AJE journalist pool and indeed they were categorized in that way. Another frame was the familiarity frame, or reference to how AJEs format for its news shows resembles that used by CNN and the BBC. The search for this language led to a decision to use broader, thematic frames based around U.S. standards of free speech and press freedom to make further assessments about framing of AJE in the U.S. news media. The researcher also made subjective evaluations based on the overall tone of the article about the network. New cat egories were created when necessary. To answer this first research question, the researcher looked only at t hose articles published between Nov. 1, 2006 and Jan. 31, 2007 to cover the period leadi ng up to the network launch; the launch itself and a tw o-month period after the network wa s on air, or in the case of the United States, on the internet. Findings of a ny shifts in perception wi ll be analyzed in the response to Research Question 4, which follows. An analysis of the findings relevant to each of four newspapers included in this sa mple will be offered individually. The researcher read each article to determine its relevancy to this framing analysis. An article was judged to be relevant if it was about AJE itself and did not merely cite AJE as a news source. In all, a total of 24 articles were found to be relevant; nine from The New York Times; three from the Washington Post; one from The Christian Science Monitor; four from USA Today; four from The Boston Globe; one from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution; two from The San Francisco Chronicle; and none from The Houston Chronicle or The Los Angeles Times. The LexisNexis entry for The Los Angeles Times only included entries from the last six months. The Wall Street Journal only posts ab stracts on LexisNexis; the abstracts of the two articles listed were not relevant to the research.


75 The New York Times In all, nine relevant stories were published in The New York T imes; but for this first look, three articles, one column and three letters r eacting to the column were examined. The three actual stories about the network were published at and around the ti me of launch; a critical op-ed piece was published two months later, which provoked three published letters in response. The first story was a brief a week before the network launched that simply said the channel was ready to go. Two full-length articl es were run the day before the launch and then another, the day after, both of which fit into the freedom of speech and free press frames. One was a business story that talked of AJE s global focus: the other was a post-launch analysis for the newspapers front secti on by a media writer for the newspaper. Even though some negative terror language was used to explain why the network was so controversial, the framing generally stayed with in the positive, freedom of the press frame. The business story headline, A New Al Jazeera with a Global Focus drew a perspective of a channel that is changing its image and looking ahead. The story began with a rundown of some of the problems the Arabic-langua ge network had confronted, incl uding an early reference to accusations that it is sympathetic to Al Qaeda. Overall, the article portrayed AJE positively, presenting the network as it hopes to be seen wi thin the AJE news coverage and AJE journalist pool frames. For example, the fourth paragraph into the story talked about how the networks journalists are working to tr ansform the network into a conglomerate with a global reach. Not Coming Soon to a Channel near You looked at the first day AJE was on the air and contrasted AJEs coverage of events in Iran and Darfur with the focus by U.S. networks on hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee. That article also implied a sense of regret that AJE would not be available in the United States except on the Internet. The thematic frame


76 that was dominant here was the free press concer n; with the article expressing the reporters point of view that its a shame that Americans couldnt see AJE. An op-ed piece that ran in January was headlined Another Perspective or Jihad TV? As its headline suggests, it was dominated by th e Terror TV frame. It was written by Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Str eet Journal reporter w ho was killed by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. Pearl was critical of both the Arabic-language network and AJE, and its Jihad TV frame. It is an opinion piece and clearl y expressed the view that AJE is a vehicle for extremist propagandizing. The Times published th ree responses to Pearls article; one from AJE Washington bureau anchor Dave Marash and tw o others from readers in North Carolina and California. It might be expect ed that Marashs response woul d come to the defense of the network, but other letters also e xpressed the point of view that AJE should be seen in the United States. The Washington Post There was only one truly relevant article about AJE found through the LexisNexis search covering the entire period in question; from Nov. 1, 2006 to Jan. 31, 2007. Although there were five hits, only one was a full-length article abou t AJE; two of the hits were announcements of a book signing and speech by AJE correspondent Josh Ru shing; the others were letters to the editor responding to the ar ticle about AJEs launch. Another arti cle looked at issues of the Arab m edia in general, and mentioned Al Jazeera but was determined not to be relevant to this query. Several other articles talked about diplomatic snafus committed by a U.S. State Department official who was interviewed on the Arabic-lan guage network, but did not talk about AJE. The Post story was a Style-section piece about AJE and Washington bureau anchor Dave Marash on the day the network launched. The ar ticle framed Marash as a champion of free speech and a free press, bringing up Marashs journali stic credentials such as his long career with


77 Nightline, and his Jewish fait h. In other words, the article wa s faithful to the news coverage and journalist pool frames. The description of Marash was friendly and respectful and also allotted ample time and space for Marash to come to the defense of the network and explain the AJE news perspective as being able to give the best-reported, most tr ansparent report of all th e English-language news channels." The story provided the background on the accusations against Al Jazeera and its reputation concerns within the terror TV frame. By establishing Marash right from the start as a former ABC newsman, the article set the journalist pool frame of reference. It also referenced Marashs Jewish roots, and conveyed a sense that if a good Jewish boy like Marash can go to work for AJE, then the network cant be all bad. The terrorist frame was a mention; but the dominant frames were that of free press concerns in the United States and AJE credibility and international focus. The Christian Science Monitor As was the case for the Washington Post, there was only one article of substance about AJE that ap peared in The Christian Science Monitor and that was an op-ed piece that appeared in late November 2006. The article was written fo r the newspaper by one of their regular media columnists and was framed in a more negative fashion than previous mentioned articles in The New York Times or Washington Post. The terror frame was used in that references were made to Al Jazeeras reputation for airing video messages from Osama bin Laden, while noting that the station launched in the United States without a single U.S. cable company or satellite provider si gned up to carry it. That fact, however, was framed in such a way so that one might not realize from reading this article, that AJE launche d globally and not just in the Unit ed States. At the same time, the


78 author of that article wondered whether th e channel would be a mouthpiece for anti U.S. propaganda, a negative take on the free press frame. USA Today Of all the newspapers exam ined in this framing analysis, USA Today was most consistent in the positive way it framed of AJE as well as in a continuity of coverage. USA Today published three stories about AJE at the time the network launched. All were rele vant to this analysis; all were framed positively, with friendly, tongue-in-cheek headlines like Goood Morning America! (cq) or Al-Jazeera aims for no 'accent' in English. Those two were feature stories; a third was a more of a straight ne ws story headlined Eng lish Al-jazeera expects scrutiny. Affirmative words and phrases like welcomed and positive impact or studded with respected names were used in one editori al piece; another story started out by saying how similar AJE operations appeared to those at C NN, NBC, ABC and CBS another bit of positive framing, in that AJE is portrayed as just another global network with a different perspective. The very day that AJE launched, USA Today editorialized the new English version of Al-Jazeera could have a positive impact, by exposing Americans to different points of view and perhaps by tempering the Arabic versi on" (Nov. 15, 2006). All three USA Today stories included references to the Bush Administration attacks on Al Jazee ra, but the terror frame was not dominant and in fact the references were placed in such a way as to cast doubt on the U.S. government allegations with phrasing such as says is a to ol of Al Qaeda or d enounced as the voice of the enemy. The Boston Globe The Boston Globes coverage of the AJE launch was a single colum n published few days after the network went live. This was a thought-provoking piece about changing media landscapes; and again was framed along the themes of free speech and free press. This article


79 went a step further, however, by framing the argume nt in terms of how much is to be gained by improved international relations when one learns to understand different perspectives. Every frame comes into play here. In hi s article, Lawrence Pintak wrote: The reality of the new digital world means th at Americans may not like what they see. These channels will show the often yawning gap between words and deeds. "We are not there to be diplomatically correct," al-Jaz eera chief Wadah Khanfar recently told me. "We are there to practice journalism." Yes, some of the coverage whether on al-Jazeera or other channels will be biased, distorted, and sensational. Deal with it. American officials must engage, not demonize. They must find a way to communicate, not preach. But most of all, they must be aware that their every word and deed is being viewed re al-time, often in a split screen showing the reality for folks at the receiving end of US policy. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The LexisNexis search turned up only one story in The Atlanta Journal-C onstitution during the 15-month period being st udied. That was an article th at ran a day after AJE launched that was headlined Al-Jazeera now in English; Arab network to challenge the West". The terror frame and the news coverage frame were juxtaposed against e ach other throughout the article. For example, the first sentence in the ar ticle read: --- It has been called the "CNN of the Middle East," the "most popular political party in the Arab world" and --most notoriously --"Terror TV." In other words positive and negative frames competed for the readers attention. But the terror frame appeared to dominant in an explanation as to why AJE did not get carriage in the United States. The reason for Al-Jazeera's difficulty in findi ng space in already crowded U.S. cable and satellite line-ups is simple, media analysts sa y. Al-Jazeera has been pilloried in the press for the past five years and it's seen by an overwhelming majority of Americans as the 'terrorist wire service.' It's a radioactive brand," said Matthew Felling, media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington.


80 The San Francisco Chronicle The LexisNexis search turned up only two articles in The San Francisco Chronicle about AJE, both at the tim e of launch. One story headli ned Al Jazeera speaks English was cast in the objective news/free press frame. The familiarity frame was dominant, with emphasis on how much AJE resembled CNN. It also played on the news coverage frame, talking about the wide net AJE cast in the news it covered its first day on the air. The free press frame was also present; the article was critical of the fact that AJE was not able to air on U.S. cable or satellite TV. Another article, a curtain raiser the day the network laun ched, was a feature piece that focused on the need to give AJE a chance, in other words, underscored the freedom of the press frame. Shift in the Type of Media Coverage of AJE since Launch Based on the prelim inary analysis offered here, it is hard to assess how much of a shift there has been in media coverage that would i ndicate a more favorable perception of AJE. The LexisNexis search did not turn up much coverage about AJE in the newspaper sample during 2007 and the first two weeks of 2008. Two-thirds of the articles published at or around time of launch were favorable within the context of freedom of the press, familiarity, news coverage, and journalist pool frames. However, they stopped short of outright suggestions that U.S. cable and satellite distributors include AJE on their lineups. The later articles examined in the framing analysis more strongly suggested that AJE should be carried. Of the ten newspapers selected for this fram ing analysis, it is important to underscore, that two had no relevant coverage of AJE at all during the time period selected for scrutiny. Only The New York Times, USA Today and The Boston Globe published articles about AJE after January 2007. All the articles were editorials ur ging that AJE be made available in the United States. The New York Times article was published in November, 2007; the USA Today piece ran


81 in December, 2007. The latter opinion, from Souheila Al-Jaddaa a member of USA Today's board of contributors asked: Does Al-Jazeera belong in the USA? The answer, framed in arguments about a free press, and looking be yond our borders was a resounding yes. Roger Cohens piece in the New York Times was framed in the same way, when he talked about AJE as the network of choice for U.S. soldiers work ing out at the NATO gym in Kabul, Afghanistan. Cohen called AJE a useful primer, again in the interests of free press and in giving U.S. audiences more exposure to othe r perspectives, Cohen wrote: Comparative courses in how Al Jazeera, CNN, the BBC and U.S. networks portray the Iraq war and th e Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be taught in all U.S. high school s and colleges. Al Jazeera English should be widely available. The Boston Globe ran a review of Josh Rushings book a bout Al Jazeera and an editorial, where the news coverage and free press fr ames were evident in the headline News without the nonsense. Once again, the focus was on the professionalism of AJE and its seasoned journalists. Arguing against the anti -American frame, the article st ated that until people in the United States can see AJE, they will never know whether the network has such a bias. Summary The opinion expressed by USA Today when AJE first becam e a presence on the global media stage may be indicative of a general medi a view toward the network. While no absolute conclusions can be drawn yet, it does suggest that there may be a proclivity amongst U.S. journalists not to view AJ E as terrorist TV but si mply as another voice. Although the researchers original expectation was that it would be possible to make judgments about framing based on the repetition of certain words and phrases, this proved not to be the case. Master frames were concepts. Each writer seemed to approach the story in a unique way some talked about challenges; some talked about Osama bin Laden in lieu of the catch-


82 phrases like terror TV or Jihad TV. A headline like Five Hours with Al Jazeera English is decidedly neutral; yet the articles inclusion of phrases like s ubtle and not-so-subtle jabs at the U.S. administration or raising the quest ions of whether AJE would be a mouthpiece for anti-American propaganda frames AJE in a negative fashion. Stories written about AJE at the time of th e launch seemed cautiously optimistic about what the channel might offer. In its articles, The New York Times writers used positive words and phrases like champion of forgotten causes or pro minent journalists to describe the AJE news team, while quoting AJE executives who talked a bout the networks fearless coverage. Not being able to see AJE was described as a shame in another story in The New York Times written at the time of launch. That story was a de tailed accounting of the different perspectives offered by AJE. A year later, more positive framing, in th e two articles culled fr om this sample, was evident. Language in favor of AJE was st ronger. A column writ ten by Roger Cohen was headlined with the phrase Bring the Real Worl d Home. Cohen used phrases like balanced reporting and distinct perspective to describe AJE. In her piece in USA Today, Souheila AlJadda framed her arguments with words like competitive news network and help bridge the divide between East and West. Two conclusions can be drawn here regardi ng the generally favorable coverage given AJE in the U.S. news media. Firs t, it would appear that for the most part, the U.S. media has not accepted the "terror" frame that had been utili zed by the Bush Administration to discredit the network. In some cases, this might be attribut ed to an opportunity to see the programming; it might also be a result of the hi gh regard with which many AJE journalists are held. Secondly, the fact is that AJE journalists are serving dual roles as public rela tions representatives for their


83 employer, who are available to talk up the netw ork and talk it up well. AJE's launch was treated as news and the willingness of key AJE journalis ts with previous experience in Western news organizations to participate in in terviews or be the focus of prof iles and/or feature stories was an effective part of a strategy to surmount some reputation hurdles.


84 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AJEs Future in the United States AJE is a te levision network with charisma like it or not, it is hard to ignore. Yet it still has a reputation to overcome. Is it doing so? Apparently, yes. From the journalistic perspective, its getting more praise than pa ns these days. It may well be on its way toward achieving its stated journalistic goal of setting the news agenda by way of its co ntent as well as the credibility of its journalists. The fact that many of its jour nalists are also officially pub lic relations spokespeople for the network is another plus. Who is better able to carry a media message to other journalists than someone who is a journalist? In fact, one of the best strategies implemented by AJE to establish a positive reputation in the United States may be the recruitment and participation of AJE journalists to speak out on behalf of th e network and serve as AJE spokespeople. Brand name spokesmen such as Riz Kha n, Dave Marash and Josh Rushing are willingly and wittingly part of th e public relations plan. But ot her, less well-known AJE staffers are just as eager to speak up for the network. A female reporter who works in Colombia said there is rarely a time she goes out on a story when she doesnt feel that she is part of the effort to put the networks best face forward, although she said the people she encounters are generally favorably inclined toward the network. Interv iew producer Diane Hodges is often called upon to explain the network to potential guests and she frequently draws upon the favorable coverage about the network in U.S. newspapers and magazines, including those arti cles that profile AJE staffers to send clippings to the people she is trying to persuade to go on air.


85 In the AJE case study published on its we bpage, Brown Lloyd James talked of how it "identified key spokespeople for the organization and undertook a series of profiles and features" as well as taking advantage of "speaker opportunities to showcase the quality of talent and skilled journalists within Al Jazeera English." A prime example of this strategy at work is the lengthy profile piece on Marash that was the lead article in The Washington Post feature section the day AJE launched. Another excellent example is the piece that ran in Fast Company in April 2006 that profiled Josh Rushing and then Al Jaz eera International. It was that piece, which sparked the research interest that led to this thesis. Incidental to this strategy, but just as important is the professionalism of AJE journalists. Indeed, in many ways it is the journalists of AJ E themselves when they are out and about doing their job as journalists who ultimately may be the ones who do the most to establish a good name for AJE in the United States. A reporter for a newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina was pleasantly surprised by his encounte r with a team of AJE journalist s sent to cover the Democratic primary election in that state in January 2008 (Morehead, 2008). When we first learned these guys were from Al-Jazeera we were confused. They certainly didnt appear to be Arab extremists bent on filling our airwaves with anti-American propaganda. These were American journalist s from Washington, D.C. And they were no slouches. The barriers placed in AJE's way because of its perceived reputation may also end up boosting the network in the end and help it break ground in another way that was not conceived when it first began. Just like CNN made a name for itself as the first 24-hour news network, so may AJE make a name for itself as the "interne t network." Instead of being stymied by image and reputation issues, AJE is sidestepping tradi tional distribution systems to opt for broadband


86 and the worldwide web. That strategy could prove to be more beneficial th an contemplated at the outset. The comments obtained during inte rviews that formed the basis of this research were quite insightful and provided va luable perspective on how the j ournalists and executives of AJE see themselves and their role as representativ es of an international news organization, particularly for purposes of this res earch, in terms of the United States. It was also of interest to the researcher to find that despite the Bush Administration painting of AJE as terror TV, the framing study suggests that in general, the U.S. media favors making the network more readily available in the United States. This hypothesis is supported by a cursory review of artic les of that appeared in newspapers published in small and medium-sized U.S. cities that were not included in this framing analysis. The general sense seemed to be that the U.S. television audience should be given the opportunity to view AJE. Geographic bias is nothing ne w in terms of how the news is covered, and it is closely linked to agenda-setting issues determined by Washington (Dominick, 1977). In terms of international news coverage, world news can become whats on Washingtons plate and ever since the end of the Cold War in 1990, Washingtons gaze has been cast on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the never-ending Israeli-Pales tinian conflict. Western media have focused on developments there as has Al Jazeera but th ere the similarities end. AJEs commitment to providing a voice to the voi celess is moving beyond geographic boundaries and the international news coverage generally ma ndated by Washington and Western Europe. In writing about AJE, Kansas City Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart said he is convinced it is the most important English-language cable cha nnel to come along since Fox News. (Barnhart,


87 2007) Even just being out on the story with othe r journalists is boosting AJEs image at least with the media (Morehead, 2008). Of course, not everyone is c onvinced. Leading the assault on AJE in the United States is Accuracy in Media, the conser vative media watchdog group. Cliff, editor of the AIM report, has consistently attacked AJE and its sister network in his writings. In April 2007, while blasting the Toledo Ohio-based Buckeye Cable System, Inc. fo r carrying the network, Kincaid wrote that It is worse than an American network airing T okyo Rose during World War II because Block is actually paying for the right to air enemy propaganda (Kincaid, 2007). Buckeye Cables response has been to ignore Kincaid and k eep AJE on the air (Block, 2007). Those at AJE also ignore Kincaid and his char ges about terror TV. As Marash put it, there is a context for Al Jazeera and AJEs access to information from Al Qaeda and that context is news. Its true that Al Jazeera became the releas e point of choice for Osama bin Laden and leadership of Al Qaeda. But if you understa nd the dynamics of the r eality of the reason they went to Al Jazeera with their video a nd news releases you will see its the same reason the Unibomber sent his letter to The Ne w York Times. If you are an Arabic speaker or you are in the Islamic world, Al Jazeera in Ar abic is the best known, best distributed and best trusted source of news, in other word s its analogous to The New York Times in American journalism. The crucial thing is what happened to their materials after they were sent to Al Jazeera and the answer is th ey were treated as news. (Marash, 2007) Objectivity and Contextual Objectivity The idea and ideals of objectivity have long served as a m oral fiber of U.S. and Western style journalism. (Gans,1980). As noted earlier, however, objectivity is hard to define and in the 21st century, even in the United States, journalistic views toward objectivity are changing. Michael Kinsley (2006) calls objectivity a muddled concept that is in its twilight time. Abandoning the pretense of objectivity does not mean abandoning the journalist's most important obligation, which is factual accuracy. In fact, the practice of opinion journalism


88 brings additional ethical obligations. These can be summarized in two words: intellectual honesty. (Slate, 2006) In another commentary posted on the So ciety of Professional Journalists web page, Chris Hedges of The Philadelphia Inquirer described objectivity as a commitment to truth. Balance and objectivity, without a strong commitme nt to the truth, can turn journalism into farce. It was impossible to witness the army massacres in El Salvador or the murder of children by Bosnian Serb snipers in Saraje vo without being revolted. And I wanted, through my reporting, to get the world to wake up and put an end to the wholesale murder of innocents. This commitment, however, was e ffective only when we were rigorous about telling the truth. The shifting views toward objectivity in U.S. journalistic circles may be a signal that AJE's time has come. In its corporate profile posted on its web page, AJE describes itself as "balancing the current typical information flow by reporting from the developing world back to the West and from the southern to the norther n hemisphere. The channel gives voice to untold stories, promotes debate, and chal lenges established perceptions." Is this contextual objectivity? The resear cher would argue that AJEs commitment to providing many perspectives is just that an atte mpt to reflect all sides of a story within the context of the audience that is being served (El Nawawy, 2003). Never eas y, in the researchers view, contextual objectivity becomes an even mo re difficult task when serving a global audience. Contextual objectivity may set the journalistic bar for the 21st century. It would be easy to argue the case that this should be so. Certainly at a time when technologica l tools can provide the means to make more information available in re cord time, a news organization, particularly a global or international news organization should provide more perspective and more context in the stories it reports.


89 Intercultural Competence It would als o seem to be a prerequisite for employment at Al Jazeera that the individual possess a high level of intercultura l competence in other words the ability to communicate with and appreciate people of other cultures. Many also speak a second or even third language outside of their mother t ongue (Smrikarov, 2007).In general, AJE has gone out of its way to recruit a multi-ethnic, multi-cult ural staff. Journalists come from more than 40 different countries, including Israel, Canada, South Africa, the United States, France, Germany and of course, a number of Arab natio ns. In the words of anchor-presenter Riz Khan: We have cultures coming togeth er. Eastern cultures Western cultures. And thats been a great cross-fertilization of ideas. Of course you face different approaches and attitudes. Like Ramadan comes by are we very much celebrating. Then Christmas comes around the corner, and the Westerners celebrate that. So its kind of nice. Everyone is becoming more aware of each other and each others customs. The multicultural, multinational makeup of AJE would seem to help it serve its multicultural, multinational audience. Can a world that celebrates Ramadan, Christmas and Hannukah learn to live and work together? It seems that challenge is being surmounted in the AJE newsroom, if not in the world at large. U.S. Perspective of the Arab World Before m oving on, it is important to place AJEs reputation difficulties in the United States in context. First, it is necessary to keep in mind a prevailing pe rspective about Arabs and Islam in the United States and to remember that Al Jazeera has its roots in the Middle East. The Western mindset, particularly that in the United States, often sees the Arab world as something strange, exotic and even evil (Said,1981). A lthough Said was writing about western media coverage of the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s, his insights about cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations are st ill all too relevant today.


90 There is a consensus on Islam as a kind of scapegoat for everything we do not happen to like about the worlds new political, social a nd economic patterns. For the right, Islam represents barbarism; for the left, medieval theocracy for the center, a kind of distasteful exoticism. In all camps, however, there is agreement that even though little enough is known about the Islamic world there is not much to be approved of there. (1981) Against that backdrop, comes Al Qaeda with it s predilection for terro rism and jihad or holy war. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda sought out Al Jazeera to deliver its messages, providing the network with the equivalent of video exclusives from Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda opera tives. Because Al Jazeera had access to Al Qaeda, its detractors labeled it Jihad TV (Pearl, 2007). However, others argue there is a news context for airing such video (Marash, 2007), a jo urnalistic rationale ex ercised not just by Al Jazeera or AJE, but also by U.S. broadcast or cable networks which were given access to the footage. AJE and You Tube It would app ear that Al Jazeera is on the cutting edge of change and may become a global news leader. Since its been just a little more than a year since the network launched, it is too early to judge its success potential, particularly in the United States where television access is limited because of distribution issues. Yet, the April 2007 agreement to establish an internet channel on YouTube may alter the media landscape fo r AJE in a way that cannot be measured at this writing. But it certainly will have implications for 21st century journalism and the stated aims of AJE to alter the direction of the news flow from south to north. This researcher believes that signing the distribution deal w ith YouTube was a stroke of genius on the part of the AJE executive team. Not only does it make AJE appear to be hip, progressive and extremely in tune with our online times, it also allows millions of young Americans to decide for themselves about AJE (Khan, 2007). Rather than mounting an expensive public relations campaign to counter critics and get their message out, AJE is going


91 right into the homes of their potential audience members by way of their computers for a very low cost (Brady, 2007). It also is worth mentioning that research s hows that the In ternet news audience is younger and better educated than the U.S. public as a whole. (Pew Research Center, 2008). Additionally, the You Tube launch is clean, clut ter-free, and highly credible in that "what you see is what you get." There can be no allegations that a frilly, fluf fy public relations campaign is trying to cover up the dark spots. Limitations The inform ation interview is a primary sour ce of research data (Williams,1964). It has often been said that every interviewer comes to the table of the qualitative research interview with his or her own subjective views already in place (Kvale, 1995). Certainly, as a former journalist, and one who worked in the world of television as an international correspondent for a global network, the researcher does have a pe rspective on news and journalism which some might consider a bias (Goldberg, 2003). But as a social science researcher the authors goal was to avoid interview bias in the phr asing of the initial questions and follow-up as well as in the way she listened (Richardson, Dohrenwend, & Klein, 1965; Gillham, 2000). Another possible limitation is that the researcher did ha ve a previous professional relationship with several of the people intervie wed at AJE, having worked with them at CNN International. This fact is noted in the interests of transparency, but prior ac quaintance did not seem to impact the interview process one way or the other. The researcher did have a collegial, professional exchange with those she interviewed. As someone who was intimately familiar with the constraints, pressures and even language of international news an d issues of credibility as they might impact upon reputation, conversa tional ease was a consiste nt component of the interview process.


92 As mentioned in the introductory chapter of this thes is, the fact that AJE is so new to the world media stage is another limitation. Time is needed to determine whether the network will achieve what it has set out for itself and at the sa me time gain not only an audience in the United States, but journalistic stature as well. Suggestions for Future Research AJE Journalists It would see m that more interviews with more AJE journalists would be useful to expand upon the research initiated here. Be cause of time constraints, the re searcher was not able to talk with as many people at AJEs Washington bureau as might have been desirable. It might have been particularly helpful to speak with an AJE photographer or producer who spent more time out in the field to gain some insights about their experiences. It must also be noted that all but one of the AJE staffers who participated in the interviews held more prominent positions at the network. It would be useful to speak with younger members of th e AJE team who hold either entry-level or mid-level positions to gain thei r perspectives about working at the network. Another approach worth exploring would be to accompany AJE journalists into the field to see how they go about giving a voice to th e voiceless. In terms of other reputation management issues, it might provide some useful insights to observe interaction between AJE journalists and their sources when they are out covering a story particular when the AJE team is covering a Washington-based event involved high-ranking U.S. government officials. Do AJE journalists get to ask questions ? How are the questions answered ? What kind of language is employed both by the journalists and/or the source? AJE Public Opinion Research It would also be interesting to c onduct som e public opinion research and audience analysis in the three areas where AJE was available to cable viewers at the


93 time of this writing, particularly because th e audiences are found in different parts of the country where perspectives might vary as well. AJE is available through a municipal carrier in Burlington, Vermont; through a cable company based in Toledo, Ohio and to a very limited audience in Washi ngton, D.C. It might also be worthwhile to compare the findings of such a study with a poll of those in similar communities who are not able to view AJE thr ough a cable or satellite service and assess their interest or the lack of same in accessing the channel. AJE and YouTube Further time and research is of course needed to determine how successful AJEs YouTube venture will be and the impact it will have. One needs to remember that AJE itself only launched in November 2006, while the You Tube deal was reached in April 2007. Will U.S. viewing habits move to the internet and mobile de vices or will there continue to be a place for easy-chair television with a remote readily at ha nd? The former would bode well for AJE, while the latter will not. Research is just emerging on the credibility of the internet as a news source and early returns show the Internet is highl y regarded at least in terms of news about the war in Iraq (Choi, Watt & Lynch, 2006). Given that at the time of this writing, the Internet is the primary way most people in the United States can view AJE, it would be useful to fu rther explore the AJEYouTube connection. AJE Cable and Satellite Distribution Sim ilarly, it is just as important to see whether more cable companies and satellite distributors will join those few brave souls who have dared to place AJE on their lineups. At the time of this writing, AJEs new global head of distribution, Phil Lawrie, had not secured more


94 carriage for the network in the United States. AJ E is seen in more than 100 million households worldwide in Europe, parts of Asia, Africa a nd Australia (Insead Knowledge, 2008). In January 2008, AJE announced a new agreement with a cable television carrier in Hong Kong further expanding its reach (Lew, 2008). Both AJE and th e Arabic-language channel are available in Israel (Burstein, 2007). AJE has announced plans to conduct a hard glob al relaunch in the second quarter of 2008, a clear indication of ongoing concerns about reputation (Insead Knowledge, 2008). Another question needs to be asked in terms of coverage in the United States. Is it true as executives for cable companies and satellite distribut ors allege that there is just no interest in international news among U.S. viewers (Stroehlein, 2007)? Or is it simply th at other interests or channels like National Geographic have beaten AJE to the punch? (Brady, 2007) Or is it AJEs reputation which is getting in the way? Further researcher might bring us closer to knowing the real answer Shifting Political Winds There will be a new United States presid ent in 2009 and a change in administration could change the way AJE is perceived in the United State (Brady, 2007). It is not the researchers intent to speculate on the world view of the media the next administration will take, but there is a real possibility that th e terror TV frame will be put to rest. To this end, it might prove useful to embark on another framing analysis of AJE a year or so after a new president is in office. Additionally, it might be helpful to include as a part of that analysis a look at coverage of AJE in newspapers in sma ll and medium-sized cities. In the same vein, an exploration of cove rage about AJE on the internet might provide some other avenues of study. Finally, it is also important to expand th e research to include


95 conversations with other media e xperts and scholars, particularly those with a focus on the Arab media. Conclusions While it is trite to say so, it is also true only time will tell if AJE will tear down its reputation as the terrorist networ k and build up the reputation it se eks to establish for itself as the network that sets the news agenda; that is a voice for the voiceless and that reverses the information flow from south to north. Whats in a name? Apparently, quite a lot. Perhaps that could explain why the network changed its name from Al Jazeera International to Al J azeera English just days before it launched to keep it from being confused with the other Arabic-language Al Jazeera, which since it airs in many countries, makes it international as well AJEs publication of its Code of Ethics on its website is also important. Highlights include a stated adherence to the journalistic values of honest y, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and dive rsity; a commitment to endeavor to get to the truth and to present diverse points of view and opinions without bias or partiality (Al Jazeera English, 2008). As far as this researcher is aware, no othe r international news or ganization does this. Is it a gesture to appease critics who consider AJE a terrorist network because of the Arabiclanguage networks access to Al Qaeda? Or is it simply because its the way AJE wants to work and let its audience to kn ow thats what it can expect from them. AJE is challenging CNN and the BBC and th e gatekeepers at other Western media outlets who make the decisions about what is news with its commitment to reversing the direction of the global news flow CNN International (CNNI) makes some effort to do this, but not to the extent that it has in the past.


96 CNNI once offered its viewers the promise of information with a global perspective; something that despite good intentions was hard to live up to because CNNI is headquartered in Atlanta and its executives were and are for the mo st part British or U.S. American. AJE is the first international news network that is non-Wester n in terms of staff and location. In Africa, for example, AJE is providing coverage that doesn t just look at floods and famines, but is attempting to go beneath the surface to help peop le understand the why of Africas problems. (Nestory, 2007). Al Jazeera is the first non-Western, English-language international news network. It has already set its goals of revers ing the information flow and gi ving a voice to the voiceless through the journalists it has recruited to carry out its mission. Future research would determine how far AJE is coming in meeting that goal.


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ronnie Lovler becam e assistant director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State Universi ty in February 2008. Previously, she was a broadcast journalism instructor at the Universi ty of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Ronnies journalism career spans several decades. She served as bureau chief and correspondent for CNN in Latin America for almost 10 years. During her time at CNN, Ronnie reported from every country in Latin America. Ronnie has al so worked for CBS News, The Weather Channel and The Associated Press, as well as The San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Ronnie has also served on the executive board of the Society of Professional Journalists Mid-Florida Pro Chapter and as a member of the International Committee of the SPJ. She was part of a team of observers headed by President Jimmy Carter monitoring electoral processes in Nicaragua (2001) and Venezuela ( 2004). During the 2005 U.S. hurricane season, Ronnie worked with the American Red Cr oss as a volunteer crisis communicator and public information officer. Ronnie is a graduate of Ohio State University. She is proud to be a member of the boom er generation and even prouder to have demonstrated you can go back to school after age 50 and succeed. She is equally proud of her two sons, Tiffen and Michael, who are enga ged in their own pursuits and studies.