The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel That Is Challenging the West
978-0-8021-4235-1 • $15.00 • Paperback • Feb. 2006
“A detailed, absorbing look at the organization, the world it covers and the international media. . . . In describing Al Jazeera’s rise, Miles illuminates the shaky balance the channel has attempted to strike between Arab thought and Western influences.” Publishers Weekly
With more than fifty million viewers, Al-Jazeera is one of the most widely watched news channels in the world. It’s also one of the most controversial. Set up by the maverick Emir of Qatar, who drew heavily on a failed BBC Arabic television project to create an Arab news channel, Al-Jazeera (“the island”) quickly became a household name after September 11 by delivering some of the biggest scoops in television history, including a notorious string of taped speeches from Osama bin Laden. Now, journalist Hugh Miles uncovers the true story behind the Arab world’s most influential outlet.
Financed by one of the wealthiest countries in the world (Qatar has no income tax, and water, gas, and electricity are free), Al-Jazeera quickly established itself as the premier news channel in the Islamic world by covering events Arabs cared about in ways they had never seen before. However, accusations of ties to Al-Qaeda continue to plague the news channel. Its journalists have been accused of spying for everyone from Mossad to Saddam Hussein, sometimes simultaneously, and a star Al-Jazeera reporter is still awaiting trial in Spain for being an active member and recruiter for a Spanish-based Al-Qaeda cell. Spawning a host of new imitators like the upstart Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera now has plans to launch an English version of its controversial satellite news channel in the first six months of 2005. This time it is aimed not just at Arabs and Muslims, but Americans as well.
With unprecedented access to the news channel’s key players, reporters, producers, and financiers, journalist Hugh Miles uncovers the full, behind-the-scenes story of Al-Jazeera’s meteoric rise and how its influence is shaping the course of the Arab world. Al-Jazeera us an eye-opening look at a television network that not only covers the news but also makes the news.