Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Al-Jazeera's English Service Sets Up Near the White House


Alvin Snyder has a fun piece at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy's site. His "Predictions for 2006 in Public Diplomacy" note that Al-Jazeera's new English-language service will put the Qatar-based network even more in the U.S. administration's face—particularly since its studios will be just a few blocks from the White House, on 16th Street in Washington.

Snyder sees Al-Jazeera as driving the administration's agenda but spots its weakness: the need to fill a 24-hour news cycle with talk:

The Bush administration will scramble to find talking heads—the kind one sees on U.S. cable news channels and Sunday morning interview shows. That’s because the producers of al-Jazeera’s English language satellite channel will have lots of time to fill, 24/7, and will be looking for talking heads to fill that time, especially from Washington. The White House and the State Department’s public diplomacy chief, Karen Hughes, ought to start thinking about this soon, to provide ample time for media training of the most articulate and attractive spokespersons.

Hopefully State can use the English-language service as a springboard to get more U.S. Arabic speakers on Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language services, even if it's just to comment on the Egypt-Qatar soccer match.

Snyder also suggests that Al-Hurra be turned into a Middle Eastern C-SPAN—something Al-Jazeera's already doing—and has some other interesting ideas, so give it a read.

(Thanks as usual to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the initial item.)

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