Al Jazeera

Thu 08 June 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World" by Hugh Miles is a biography of a TV network hated in the west as a mouthpiece of the terrorists and in the middle east as a mouthpiece of the west. If they are hated by everyone and yet have a tremendous impact by becoming one of the largest networks in the world, don't you think they must be doing something right?

Hugh Miles traces the journey of Al Jazeera birthing out of a grant in Qatar by the Emir until the end of the Iraq war in 2005. Sometimes the book reads like a fan tribute and sometimes raises some serious questions about the editorial policy, financial autonomy etc. But mostly it feels like the former.

While narrating the story of Al Jazeera, the author holds a mirror to the western world and it's spineless media that abdicated it's duty under the garb of patriotism in the run up to the Iraq war. He exposes the hypocrisy of the western world that talks of freedom of speech while curtailing it in the middle east by supporting authoritarian regimes and despots.

This is a great book not only to learn more about the Al Jazeera but also the geopolitical dynamics of the Gulf.

In the book, there is an instance where Qatar is boycotted by it's neighbours over Al Jazeera and something similar is playing out currently. I thought this would be the best period to judge the objectivity of the news channel. I have to admit that the coverage so far has been quite balanced and sober (unlike majority of the English news channels in India).