Al Jazeera’s Head of International and Media relations, Satnam Matharu talks to the LIP about the station’s reputation and aims for the future.
There are many widely held misconceptions in the west about al Jazeera – what needs to be done to put that right?
It is true that there are many misconceptions about Al Jazeera in the West. The primary source of these misconceptions arises from that fact that since Al Jazeera has been broadcast in the Arabic language many people have not had the opportunity to decide first-hand for themselves what Al Jazeera is and does. Their opinions are largely influenced by statements made by officials who are not always happy with Al Jazeera’s independent approach in reporting events. Two prevalent examples come to mind. First, even though Al Jazeera has never shown a single frame of a beheading on our channel we are constantly being accused of this. In addition, when we receive tapes of hostages or statements on tapes, we have a strict editorial policy that stipulates if, how, and when we will show them. Sometimes we have shelved tapes because there is no newsworthy content on them, only propaganda. We will only show a tape if it has newsworthy content, and, if we do decide to show the newsworthy segment of a tape we always contextualize it in analysis and discussion. Contrary to the general Western public, our policies are well known by Western media analysts and journalists who applaud our approach.
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