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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good news: More Americans watched Jihadi TV during Gaza war

I have al-Jazeera as one of "My Subscriptions" on YouTube, but I almost never click on it. Still, it was hard to miss the dramatically higher numbers that nearly every video posted by the Jihadi TV network garnered. Now, al-AP confirms my suspicions.
American viewership of Al-Jazeera English rose dramatically during the Israel-Hamas war, partly because the channel had what CNN and other international networks didn't have: reporters inside Gaza.

But the viewers weren't watching it on television, where the Arab network's English-language station has almost no U.S. presence.

Instead, the station streamed video of Israel's offensive against Hamas on the Internet and took advantage of emerging online media such as the microblogging Web site Twitter to provide real-time updates.

During the 22-day conflict that ended last weekend, the station and its Arabic language sister, as they often do, aired far more graphic pictures than U.S. networks of dead and injured Palestinian children and women.

The images, viewed widely across the Mideast, generated enormous sympathy for Gazans in the Muslim world.


Al-Jazeera had another draw: Its reporters were inside Gaza while international networks such as CNN were barred by Israel from sending reporters in throughout the entire war. Israeli TV focused mostly on Israeli casualty reports and Hamas rocket barrages.

"Having reporters in Gaza - which others did not have - that's what made Al-Jazeera stand out and that's important on the Internet," said Jeff Jarvis, who teaches journalism at the City University of New York and writes about media on his Buzzmachine.com blog.

Overall, the station's Web video stream saw a 600 percent jump in worldwide viewership during the Gaza offensive - and about 60 percent of those hits came from the United States, according to the station's internal numbers.

Outside figures also point to big gains in U.S. online interest, suggesting the war gave the Arab station its first significant chance to break into the American market.

Traffic to Al-Jazeera's main Web page, which includes both the English and Arabic sites, spiked once Israeli airstrikes began on Dec. 27, according to Amazon.com Inc.'s Alexa Web tracking site.

Those figures show the share of Internet users visiting the site shot up about 22 percent over the last three months, with most of the gains coming since the start of the Gaza conflict.

The jump in viewership reflects wider trends in global media, where the Web increasingly is the place where viewers go to watch video and social networking sites and citizen journalism are merging with traditional news coverage.

Al-Jazeera English and Arabic are both bankrolled by energy-rich Qatar, a U.S. Arab ally that also supports the militant Hamas rulers of Gaza and which recently suspended its low-level ties with Israel to protest the Gaza offensive.
Something for Israel's planners to think about for next time.

In case any of you missed it, the headline was sarcastic.


At 8:32 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

They should take out the Al Jazeera studio in the next round and snuff out their propagandists on sight. If they can't get out the pictures, there will no giant anti-Israel demonstrations around the globe and no pressure on Israel to hold its fire. If you can't see the bear shat in the woods, its really not going to draw any one interest in what else it may be doing there.

Keeping the hostile MSM out of Gaza was part of Israel's sensible war strategy. Dealing with Al Jazeera should be a goal in the next round - and there will be one.

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Joe said...

We can imagine what would have happened if Israel did allow foreign journalists into the strip; one of them would have inevitably been killed from an aerial strike or crossfire on the ground, and that would have generated an extra dose of Israel hate.

Personally, I couldn't care less. Send all of the media into the Gaza Strip.


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