Al-Jazeera’s expansion

Al-Jazeera International brings a needed perspective into the Western news arena.

Nine years after it first appeared in Qatar, Al-Jazeera is expanding internationally. The station labeled by Donald Rumsfeld as “anti-America and pro-terrorists” will have offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; London; Doha, Qatar; and Washington D.C. All will be based in English. Al-Jazeera is emerging as a global station with a global audience, and now a global perspective as well – a step important for objectivity.

Objectivity is often not an easy, tangible thing to measure, and so it’s important for news providers to have transparency. Al-Jazeera’s decision to hire former Marine Josh Rushing, who in the documentary “Control Room” was very critical and aggressive toward the station, is an example of Al-Jazeera’s desired journalistic transparency.

In the past few decades, news has been intense in the Middle East and Africa, and to understand the events there, exposure to the most dominant Arab news station is necessary.

Unfortunately, media are dominated by “experts” talking about the Middle East, Latin America and other parts of the world, often creating bad representations of “the other” and looking at situations from a Western point of view. These representations are stereotypical and racist, dangerously exposing citizens to a narrow understanding of the world outside the United States. Arabs specifically, and Muslims in general, have been depicted horribly, many times with misinformation and misrepresentations.

To understand an issue, one must first understand the context. Understanding the culture, people and language of a given area is crucial to reporting news.

The station plans to counter this issue by placing African reporters and scholars in Africa to aid coverage in that region. The same standard will be used for issues in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world.

The history and actions of the station prove Al-Jazeera is establishing itself as an objective source with a global perspective. Al-Jazeera provides a voice often not heard, and Al-Jazeera International should be embraced as a positive source that is a necessary component to objective news in a global society.