Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Interview with Philip Seib

Philip Seib is professor of journalism and public diplomacy and professor of international relations at the University of Southern California. He is authot of many books, including The Al Jazeera Effect: how the new global media are reshaping world politics (2008); on next february we will have in bookshops his new book called Al Jazeera English: Global news in a changing world.

1) When and where were you born?

I was born on 1949. Arlington, Virginia, USA.

2) When did you become interested about journalism and public diplomacy?

Long-time interest in how journalism affected policy and politics. Focused on public diplomacy beginning in 2007, when I came to the University of Southern California, which is home of the Center on Public Diplomacy.

3) Al Jazeera was born on 1996, how long time did you need to understand the importance of Al Jazeera for the muslim world?

After the 2000 intifada and the 2001 attacks on the United States, it became clear how important Al Jazeera was to Arab audiences.

4) Al Jazeera english was born on 2006, (beside experts like you) do you think it has been having a real impact towards english speaking audiences?

Through its coverage of events in the Arab world during 2011, Al Jazeera English proved that it is an important journalistic source for English-speaking audiences around the world.

5) On february your new book about Al Jazeera english will be out: what's the main idea behind that book? What's the difference between this new book and the book you wrote on 2008 (the Al Jazeera effect) about Al Jazeera?

The Al Jazeera Effect was about the general importance of satellite television and online news in changing the politics of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Al Jazeera English is more tightly focused on this one channel, and how it brings news of the Global South to the Global North.

6) I watched Al Jazeera english during the egyptian uprising (25th january-11th february 2011) and i thought that the non-stop live coverage of Tahrir Square and the reports were all pro-uprising and were encouraging the "revolution". Do you think that encouraging (even against a dictatorship) an uprising with biased reports is fair journalism?

Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English feature what might be called "activist journalism". Some purists would disapprove, but others would commend AJ/AJE's role in serving a broad public.

7) How important was Al Jazeera in encouraging the Arab spring?

Extremely. For instance, AlJazeera brought news of events in Tunisia to Egyptians in ways that Egypt's government-run media would never have allowed.
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