The Culture of Al Jazeera

Inside an Arab Media Giant

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About the Book

In the mid 1990s, the emir of Qatar conceived the idea of a satellite channel that would further the progressive image he hoped to establish for his small Arabian/Persian Gulf state. At the same time, a short-lived partnership between the BBC and a Saudi company had left a handful of BBC-trained Arab journalists and broadcasters up for grabs. That was the inception of Al Jazeera—a satellite channel which changed forever the face of Arab broadcasting with its uncensored news and bold talk show programs. The September 11 attacks on the United States and the war on terrorism vaulted Al Jazeera to international prominence but also turned it into a source of controversy. Despite the controversy—or perhaps in part because of it—in less than a decade the channel has transformed itself from an obscure regional news broadcaster to a multi-channel, multi-lingual, multi-service global enterprise.
This book’s in-depth look at Al Jazeera examines whether its global success reflects particular organizational strengths. It explores whether Al Jazeera is merely a fad thriving on the thirst for free speech in the Middle East, or a new medium whose success will be sustained by its organizational culture and model. This work delves deep into the culture, workings and challenges of this powerful media organization to provide insights on its achievements, its future, and the true measure of its success.

About the Author(s)

Mohamed Zayani is an associate professor of critical theory at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar and author of Networked Publics and Digital Contention.
Sofiane Sahraouiis an associate professor of management information systems at the American University of Sharjah, UAE, and a research fellow at the University of Brunel, UK.

Bibliographic Details

Mohamed Zayani and Sofiane Sahraoui
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 214
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2961-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1201-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Preface      1

Introduction      13

I. An Unconventional Media Player      23

II. Critical Success Factors      35

III. In Search of a Core Capability      43

IV. Unraveling the Business Model      50

V. Values and Beliefs      57

VI. The Power Game      69

VII. The People Organization      86

VIII. Beyond Money      108

IX. The Knowledge Imperative      115

X. Al Jazeera at the Crossroads      132

XI. Surviving Change      151

XII. Innovation and Expansion      163

XIII. The Road Ahead      171

Chapter Notes      179

Bibliography      191

Index      201

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “an important book…highly recommended”—International Journal of Communication; “this is one of the most innovative and in-depth studies of Al Jazeera channel to have been published in several years…in this rich case study, the authors offer a fascinating portrait of a network struggling to find its identity”—European Journal of Communication; “this book is a real contribution to expanding our methodological and conceptual horizons as they pertain to Arab media…an important contribution to Arab media scholarship”—Global Media Journal.