Al Jazeera effect

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The Al Jazeera effect is a term used in political science and media studies to describe the impact of new media and media sources on global politics, namely, reducing the government and mainstream media monopoly on information and empowering groups which previously lacked a global voice.[1] The primary example is the effect's namesake - the impact of the Al Jazeera Media Network on the politics of the Arab world.

Origin and use[edit]

William Lafi Youmans attributes the first use of the term to Philip Seib, author of The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics (2008).[2] However, Simon Henderson, who in turn attributes the term to "diplomats in the region", had used it as early as 2000.[3] As used by Henderson, the Al Jazeera effect originally referred to Arab Middle East governments losing their monopoly on information because of the popularity and easy access to the Al Jazeera satellite television media network,[3] and scholars still often use it in such a limited context.[4] Thomas L. McPhail used it to refer to the changes in all of the Arab media.[5] Seib generalized it to other, Internet-powered new media worldwide.[2]


Seib noted that the Al Jazeera effect can be seen as parallel to the CNN effect, which states that coverage of international events can force otherwise uninvolved governments to take action.[2] Whereas the CNN effect is used in the context of mainstream, traditional media networks such as CNN, the Al Jazeera effect generalizes this to newer media such as citizen journalist blogs, internet radio, and satellite broadcasting.[2] He also argues that new media strengthen the identity of and give voice to previously marginalized groups, which previously lacked their own media outlets; he cites the Kurdish people as an example.[2] Many of the new media organizations are affiliated with such groups, social movements or similar organizations. New media weaken the monopoly of many states on information, as even extensive Internet censorship in countries such as China is not wholly effective.[2] He concludes that the new media, while not beyond being abused, are largely contributing to democratization and political reform worldwide.[2] William Lafi Youmans notes that Seib's prediction that the Al Jazeera effect will lead to changes in the politics of the Middle East was realized in the early 2010s during the Arab Spring, with new media provoking widespread debate and unrest within the region.[2]


The Al Jazeera effect has also been referred to as a subaltern, in reference to Subaltern (post colonialism). Subaltern, depending on the context and where the subaltern is present, resembles something of opposition to the status quo through the demographic that does not have the capital to have their voices be heard; this form of alternative media gives a "voice to the voiceless." [6] This notion of the subaltern is discussed by scholars, such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Al Jazeera Media at Political Impact". Bangla News. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h William Lafi Youmans, Al Jazeera Effect, in Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, Harvey Kerric and Golson J. Jeffrey (eds.), CQ Press/SAGE Reference, 2013 (forthcoming)
  3. ^ a b "The 'al-Jazeera Effect': - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". 2000-12-08. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  4. ^ Sadri, Houman A.; Flammia, Madelyn (3 March 2011). Intercultural Communication: A New Approach to International Relations and Global Challenges. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4411-0309-3. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  5. ^ McPhail, Thomas L. (16 March 2010). Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends. John Wiley & Sons. p. 290. ISBN 978-1-4443-3030-4. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Sharp, J (2008). "Chapter 6, Can the Subaltern Speak?". Geographies of Postcolonialism. 

Further reading[edit]

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