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The Al Jazeera Effect
Cover of The Al Jazeera Effect
The Al Jazeera Effect
How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics
Borrow Borrow

The battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East is being fought not on the streets of Baghdad, but on the newscasts and talk shows of Al Jazeera. The future of China is being shaped not by Communist Party bureaucrats, but by bloggers working quietly in cyber cafes. The next attacks by al Qaeda will emerge not from Osama bin Laden's cave, but from cells around the World connected by the Internet.

In these and many other instances, traditional ways of reshaping global politics have been superseded by the influence of new media—satellite television, the Internet, and other high-tech tools. What is involved is more than a refinement of established practices. We are seeing a comprehensive reconnecting of the global village and a reshaping of how the World works.

Al Jazeera is a paradigm of new media's influence. Ten years ago, there was much talk about "the CNN effect," the theory that news coverage—especially gripping visual storytelling—was influencing foreign policy throughout the World. Today, "the Al Jazeera effect" takes that a significant step further. The concept encompasses the use of new media as tools in every aspect of global affairs, ranging from democratization to terrorism, and including the concept of "virtual states."

"The media" are no longer just the media. They have a larger popular base than ever before and, as a result, have unprecedented impact on international politics. The media can be tools of conflict and instruments of peace; they can make traditional borders irrelevant and unify peoples scattered across the globe. This phenomenon, the Al Jazeera effect, is reshaping the World.

The battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East is being fought not on the streets of Baghdad, but on the newscasts and talk shows of Al Jazeera. The future of China is being shaped not by Communist Party bureaucrats, but by bloggers working quietly in cyber cafes. The next attacks by al Qaeda will emerge not from Osama bin Laden's cave, but from cells around the World connected by the Internet.

In these and many other instances, traditional ways of reshaping global politics have been superseded by the influence of new media—satellite television, the Internet, and other high-tech tools. What is involved is more than a refinement of established practices. We are seeing a comprehensive reconnecting of the global village and a reshaping of how the World works.

Al Jazeera is a paradigm of new media's influence. Ten years ago, there was much talk about "the CNN effect," the theory that news coverage—especially gripping visual storytelling—was influencing foreign policy throughout the World. Today, "the Al Jazeera effect" takes that a significant step further. The concept encompasses the use of new media as tools in every aspect of global affairs, ranging from democratization to terrorism, and including the concept of "virtual states."

"The media" are no longer just the media. They have a larger popular base than ever before and, as a result, have unprecedented impact on international politics. The media can be tools of conflict and instruments of peace; they can make traditional borders irrelevant and unify peoples scattered across the globe. This phenomenon, the Al Jazeera effect, is reshaping the World.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 21, 2008
    Mapping the first large-scale shift away from Western media dominance since the advent of television, Seib (Headline Democracy
    ) argues that framing conflict in the Middle East as a “clash of civilizations” has outlived its polemical and practical uses. The book makes a convincing case that the rise of Al Jazeera—with its audience of 35 million—reflects how satellite television and the Internet create virtual communities that can significantly influence political policy. Seib cites the example of Hezbollah, a geopolitical group without easily definable territory, and suggests that Al Qaeda is similarly a virtual state existing through the combination of communication and political will. Information is no longer the province of a political elite, according to the author whose wide-ranging evidence includes a fascinating description of how news of the SARS outbreak in China first leaked via text message and in Internet chatrooms. The author also examines how the constant proliferation of perspectives on the Internet, for example, can both mitigate and exacerbate problems of assimilation. Seib constructs an imaginative, thorough and balanced assessment of how news—ever more a dialogue and less an event—is redistributing political power.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2008
    Beyond what was called the CNN effect10 years ago, when news went global 24/7, Al Jazeera is producing its own effect, helping to promote an unprecedented cohesion in the worldwide Muslim community. It is part of the rising prominence of nontraditional non-Western media, seeping through the Internet, radio, and satellite television to deliver news in ways and from viewpoints that have not been widely heard. Seib, a journalism professor, examines how the new global media are developing and the long-range implications for global politics. Qatar-based Al Jazeera, along with other Islamic communications, is influencing everything from democratization to terrorism, even creating virtual states that are as much a danger and influence in the Middle East as actual states. Seib outlines the major players in the shifting media world as well as the informal bloggers in China and other nations who are bringing new perspectives to news coverage. This is a compelling look at how changes in communication are reshaping geopolitics.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2008, American Library Association.)

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Bahrain, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

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The Al Jazeera Effect
The Al Jazeera Effect
How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics
Philip Seib
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