Americans Turn to Al-Jazeera for Raw Images of War, Study FInds

Apr 19, 2010 By Jeff Harrison

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research by Shahira Fahmy in the UA School of Journalism showed that visitors to Al-Jazeera's website, including Americans, went there looking for graphic images of war that U.S. media generally don't publish.

Sometimes gruesome war-time images of death and destruction are necessary for getting the whole story, even if you have to go to non-U.S. media to find them, according to a study by an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona.

Shahira Fahmy reported in a study published this month in Media, and Conflict that visitors to the English-language Al-Jazeera website overwhelmingly support the network's decision to run graphic images of war that are important pieces of information missing from Western media.

Fahmy, along with researcher Thomas Johnson of Texas Tech University, conducted two online surveys of Al-Jazeera Web users during November and December 2004. They found that most of those who use the Al-Jazeera English-language website are from the U.S., Canada, the U.K and Australia. Respondents indicated that they appreciate the graphic pictures of war they find on the site that they don't see in mainstream media. As one user explained:

"It (Al-Jazeera site) gives me a sense of what the grueling reality is on the ground. U.S. media only reports strength of their troops and gives reports of deaths just in terms of numbers. Whereas the pictures on (Al-Jazeera) presents the other side of the war...the people impacted. It presents the real human disaster that is happening."

Findings suggested nine out of 10 of those surveyed support the broadcasting of graphic visuals, including that of the Iraq War and Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Also, nine out of 10 said the news site provides that cannot be found on CNN or other Western media, and half said the information is missing from Arab media. One user said:

" and other Western media have abdicated their journalistic responsibility to provide balanced, objective news and have instead become a voice of the government - not controlled by the government but controlled by the big multinational multimedia conglomerates that own them and by their own self censorship." Another respondent went further, claiming that American media is "controlled and censored by Bush and his cronies."

Fahmy said the dilemma that photo editors face of whether a graphic photo of war and conflict would be too shocking to view gathered around the breakfast table might no longer hold true in the current media environment.

"Younger audiences, especially the ‘YouTube' generation, seek graphic visual images in a far different way than audiences did before the World Wide Web," Fahmy said. "This has serious implications for the news media. I think it's time for organizations to amend their ethical codes to allow for more graphic visuals in an effort to provide a more comprehensive and realistic view of war and conflict to U.S. audiences."

The study is titled "When Blood Becomes Cheaper than a Bottle of Water: How Viewers of the English Version of Al-Jazeera Website Judge Graphic Images of Conflict."

Explore further: Why plants in the office make us more productive

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global war deaths have been substantially underestimated

Jun 20, 2008

[B]Research paper: 50 years of violent war deaths from Vietnam to Bosnia[/B] Globally, war has killed three times more people than previously estimated, and there is no evidence to support claims of a recent decline in ...

Intense war news reduces ability to remember ads

Mar 04, 2010

A new study shows that the more graphic and intense war news is, the less likely that viewers - regardless of political beliefs - will remember the advertising that follows the news.

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 0