Journalism.org: In its coverage of the Syrian crisis, the fledgling Al Jazeera America cable news channel provided viewers with content that often resembled what Americans saw on other U.S. cable news outlets, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
The showdown over Syria’s chemical weapons is the first mega-story to break since Al Jazeera America’s much-publicized launch on Aug. 20. One major question was whether the channel-an offshoot of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network-would present news largely through a U.S. perspective or provide an alternative, more global, view of events. The findings in this report suggest that if Syrian coverage is any indication, Al Jazeera America is targeting its programming at the domestic U.S. audience its owner has long tried to reach.
The analysis of cable coverage during a crucial week in the Syria story found that in a number of areas-where stories originated, the focus of stories, key messages in stories and the mix of reporting and opinion-Al Jazeera America was largely in sync with its U.S. cable news competitors, most often CNN.
Like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, Al Jazeera America devoted the biggest chunk of Syria coverage to the debate over whether the U.S. should become militarily involved in the conflict that pits the government of Bashar al-Assad against an array of rebel forces. The most common message conveyed in Al Jazeera’s coverage-that the U.S. should get involved in the conflict-was also the No. 1 message on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. BBC News America news programming, some of which originates in London, was more of an outlier in its coverage of Syria.
The sources cited most often in coverage by the U.S. cable channels-American politicians and policymakers-were also by far the most frequent in Al Jazeera America’s coverage. And as was the case with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, the overwhelming majority of Al Jazeera America’s coverage originated from the two main U.S. news hubs-Washington, D.C., and New York City. [Continue reading…]