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The Al Jazeera effect is a term used in political science and media studies to describe the impact of new media and media sources on global politics, namely, reducing the government and mainstream media monopoly on information and empowering groups which previously lacked a global voice. The primary example is the effect's namesake – the impact of the Al Jazeera Media Network on the politics of the Arab world.[citation needed]


Origin and useEdit

Al Jazeera was created in 1996 with the combination of Emir of Qatar's money and talent from the defunct BBC Arabic service. It started as a response to the fact that governments in many countries from the Arab League strictly controlled most forms of newspaper and TV journalism, and there was a lack of free press available.[1] The viewing public did not respect journalism because it considered most reporters to be mouthpieces for dictators or political groups.[1] The Emir of Qatar sought to break the heavy handed media management by the government because he had progressive ideas of expanding political participation and allowing independent press.[1]

Similarly, founders set up Al Jazeera to counter the dominant Western viewpoint of Arabs and Arabic culture throughout the 20th century. Arabs depended on the BBC and CNN International – but were frustrated they had to listen to the Western viewpoints about themselves.[1] William Lafi Youmans attributes the first use of the term to Philip Seib, author of The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics (2008).[2] However, Simon Henderson, who in turn attributes the term to "diplomats in the region", had used it as early as 2000.[3] As used by Henderson, the Al Jazeera effect originally referred to Arab Middle East governments losing their monopoly on information because of the popularity and easy access to the Al Jazeera satellite television media network,[3] and scholars still often use it in such a limited context.[4] Thomas L. McPhail used it to refer to the changes in all of the Arab media.[5] Seib generalized it to other, Internet-powered new media worldwide.[2]


Al Jazeera ended the flow of information that followed the format of from the "West to the rest".[1] It follows a similar pattern to the CNN effect and includes the accelerant effect, impediment effect, and agenda-setting effect.[1] Seib noted that the Al Jazeera effect can be seen as parallel to the CNN effect, which states that coverage of international events can force otherwise uninvolved governments to take action.[2] Whereas the CNN effect is used in the context of mainstream, traditional media networks such as CNN, the Al Jazeera effect generalizes this to newer media such as citizen journalist blogs, internet radio, and satellite broadcasting.[2] He also argues that new media strengthen the identity of and give voice to previously marginalized groups, which previously lacked their own media outlets; he cites the Kurdish people as an example.[2] Many of the new media organizations are affiliated with such groups, social movements or similar organizations. New media weaken the monopoly of many states on information, as even extensive Internet censorship in countries such as China is not wholly effective.[2] He concludes that the new media, while not beyond being abused, are largely contributing to democratization and political reform worldwide.[2] William Lafi Youmans notes that Seib's prediction that the Al Jazeera effect will lead to changes in the politics of the Middle East was realized in the early 2010s during the Arab Spring, with new media provoking widespread debate and unrest within the region.[2] The CNN effect and Al Jazeera effect have had a tremendous impact on policies and the government. They have both influenced foreign policies of the US. the existence of such news organizations is crucial for having global communications and is promising in terms of spreading democracy.[1]


The Al Jazeera effect has also been referred to as a subaltern, in reference to Subaltern (post colonialism). Subaltern, depending on the context and where the subaltern is present, resembles something of opposition to the status quo through the demographic that does not have the capital to have their voices be heard; this form of alternative media gives a "voice to the voiceless." [6] This notion of the subaltern is discussed by scholars, such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Zingarelli, M (2010). "The CNN effect and the Al-Jazeera effect in global politics and society".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Youmans, William Lafi (2013). "Al Jazeera Effect". In Kerric, Harvey (ed.). Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Los Angeles: CQ Press/SAGE Reference. pp. 41–43. ISBN 9781483389004. Search for "Al Jazeera effect".
  3. ^ a b "The 'al-Jazeera Effect': – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". 2000-12-08. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
  4. ^ Sadri, Houman A.; Flammia, Madelyn (3 March 2011). Intercultural Communication: A New Approach to International Relations and Global Challenges. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4411-0309-3. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  5. ^ McPhail, Thomas L. (16 March 2010). Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends. John Wiley & Sons. p. 290. ISBN 978-1-4443-3030-4. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  6. ^ Sharp, J (2008). "Chapter 6, Can the Subaltern Speak?". Geographies of Postcolonialism.

Further readingEdit

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