Pew Research Center's Project for
Excellence in Journalism says a new report shows that Al Jazeera America's focus in its
coverage of the Syrian chemical attack story is in line with those of its U.S. cable news
Calling that story
the first mega-story to break since Al Jazeera America launched Aug. 20 and an
early test of whether it would provide "a U.S. perspective or provide an
alternative, more global, view," Pew researchers concluded that "if
Syrian coverage is any indication, Al Jazeera America is targeting its
programming at the domestic U.S. audience its owner has long tried to
Pew said that
according to its analysis of cable news coverage of the story, Al Jazeera America's Focus, key
messages and "mix of reporting and opinion" was "largely in
sync" with U.S. cable nets CNN,
MSNBC, and Fox.
There has been some
concern that Al Jazeera would bring a Middle East-centric view to its
U.S.-based and targetted channel.
Al Jazeera America devoted the
majority of its coverage to the debate over whether the U.S. should get
involved, just like the other news operations. It cited the same
sources--American politicians and policymakers--and
the most common message conveyed in the coverage--that the U.S. should get
involved--was also the same one conveyed on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
The study also found
that despite access to more than 60 international bureaus, about three-quarters
(76%) of Al Jazeera America's stories originated from either Washington or New
York City, its two headquarters, which was more than CNN (71%), though less
than MSNBC (85%) or Fox News (94%).
Al Jazeera America was pleased with
"The Pew Research
Center's report on how Al Jazeera America and the other major cable television
news channels have covered the Syria story over the past few weeks validates
everything we have been saying about the high quality journalism Al Jazeera
America provides to its viewers," said network president Kate O'Brian in a
statement. "As the report indicates, Al Jazeera America's coverage shows
that is an American news channel that provides unbiased, fact-based reporting
that doesn't have a partisan or other point of view."
O'Brien said she was
particularly pleased with the report's conclusion that her network had a
greater "focus than others on the humanitarian aspects of the story. The
report found that Al Jazeera America framed a small
minority of its stories by the humanitarian crisis in the region. "Seeing
beyond the headlines and statements from politicians and having the largest
global newsgathering capability of any U.S. news channel are
what will most benefit our viewers," she said.
Pew analyzed daytime
and prime time coverage of the story from Aug. 26 to Aug. 31--321 stories and
nearly 21 hours of Syria coverage on talk
and news-oriented cable.
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