J Armitage on Tue, 25 Mar 2003 19:26:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Al Jazeera launches Iraq site in English

[Hi all, Al Jazeera now has a site up and running in English, URL below.

Location: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2132399,00.html
Al Jazeera launches Iraq site in English
Ian Fried, CNET News.com <mailto:mailroomuk@zdnet.com>
Arab news agency Al Jazeera launched an English-language Web site on Monday,
providing a starkly different view on the war with Iraq than that offered by
many Western media outlets.
Featuring headlines such as "US 'precision' bomb destroys civilian bus",
"Misinformation Basra" and "Hunger turns Iraqi civilians against US
'saviours'", the site <http://english.aljazeera.net/?tag=nl> billed itself
as "objective and balanced global news coverage and analysis".
The site, which is devoted to news on the conflict in Iraq, joins a chorus
of voices emanating from the war zone, including individual Web logs as well
as the many TV broadcasts, radio reports, newspaper dispatches and other
media reports. However, the Al Jazeera site was accessible only
intermittently on Monday.
Although much of the difference between Al Jazeera's reports and those of
other news outlets had to do with the tone and choice of stories, in some
cases the site offered facts at odds with those reported by Western media
outlets. For example, it was widely reported in the Western press that
coalition bombs appeared to have hit a bus carrying Syrian civilians in Iraq
near the Syrian border. However, in one article, Al Jazeera says: "A missile
is said to have strayed and hit a bus in Syria, killing five innocent
Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, has been billed as the CNN of the
Middle East, but has also come under criticism, first for broadcasting
unedited speeches of Osama Bin Laden and more recently for broadcasting
video of US soldiers said to be held prisoner by Iraq.
US military leaders have criticised Iraq for showing videotapes of US
prisoners and some have extended that criticism to Al Jazeera. "Needless to
say, television networks that carry such pictures are, I would say, doing
something that's unfortunate," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on
Monday in an interview on CNN's Late Edition.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the site.
Although some are likely to value a contrasting voice, the site is sure to
be controversial, with features including "Coalition of the willing has
become a joke" and "Has Israeli lobby influenced this war?"
Among its dispatches on Monday was what it described as an eyewitness
account of the assault on Baghdad.
"Baghdad witnessed intense bombardment last night," begins the unbylined
report, attributed simply to Al Jazeera. "Glass panes on windows and doors
of the Al Jazeera Satellite TV office were shattered as shock waves ripped
through the city. We still can smell gunpowder and smoke here."
The report goes on to give details on an attack on the Al Salam palace,
which Al Jazeera said is used for hosting heads of state.
"We visited this palace along with the Iraqi Minister of Information and saw
the damage," the report said. "It was completely empty and devoid of the
alleged weapons of mass destruction."
The site also features a section devoted to "global reaction", which focuses
entirely on opposition to the war, including various protests as well as
antiwar sentiments expressed during Sunday's Academy Awards.

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