By: Melissa Martin
Despite being a region of dynamic growth and perpetual change, original and accurate reporting on the Middle East can be surprisingly scarce at times. It is not uncommon to read the daily news emanating from major Western outlets and find largely homogenous content. Plus, today’s media has an ugly habit of regurgitating and recycling claims made in the press circuit, and this is especially true of coverage of the Middle East where fact and fiction often mingle (see the viral story about the man too handsome for Saudi Arabia).
However, those seeking to delve deeper now have access to an expanding network of independent media outlets in the Middle East - many of which have only recently realized the right to a free press - if only they knew where to look. Thus, to promote a more complete spectrum of regional affairs, we will begin a blog series featuring media outlets we hope to be unique and engaging to readers. These posts will examine a variety of subject areas - including general news, women’s rights, technology, art, etc. These outlets feature a variety of viewpoints which serve to create a more accurate picture of this complex region.
This week, we kick things off with a collection of general news outlets:
Al-Sharq al-Awsat: This publication is often considered the leading Arab daily paper. It is produced in London, where it was established in 1978 with approval from the Saudi royal family. The paper is noted for its support of the Saudi government, and considered a conservative outlet in the region. Al-Sharq al-Awsat has a network of correspondents and bureaus throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the United States, producing a distinctive global perspective on regional and international events.
Al-Arabiya: This webpage corresponds to the pan-Arab television news channel Al-Arabiya, which carries news, current affairs, business and financial markets, sports, talk shows, and documentaries. The site is Saudi-owned, and has been accused of having a pro-Saudi bias. It is regarded as one of the most popular sites in the region. Al-Arabiya provides translated news articles and English subtitles to video clips on its English webpage.
Facebook: Al Arabiya English
Al-Monitor: The concept behind Al-Monitor is unique and beneficial to readers looking to discover sources beyond the English-speaking press circuit. The site has partnerships with two-dozen major news outlets in the region; it pulls pressing articles from these sources daily and translates them into English. It then supplements the pieces with original reporting and secondary-coverage for English viewers. Its list of contributors features former reporters for The National, Foreign Policy, and USA Today. The site claims to cover the “pulses” of Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey.
Magharebia: This news outlet focuses on current events in North Africa and the Maghreb, namely Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, and Algeria. The website is unique in publishing all articles in Arabic, French, and English. The website organizes stories by country, as well as in an archive format. It is open to article comments, and maintains an online discussion forum called ‘Zawaya’ which features panel debates on a variety of topics. Magharebia has played an active role in original reporting on issues in the Maghrib since its establishment in 2004.
Tehran Bureau: Founded in 2008, this “virtual" bureau works to connect journalists, Iran experts, and readers in regard to Iran and the diaspora. Contributors attempt to offer some sort of independent coverage in a regime where little exists. Tehran Bureau established an editorial partnership with Frontline PBS in 2009, and offers a press roundup, commentary, features, art and a forum for discussion.
Facebook: Tehran Bureau
The Daily Star: The Daily Star is an English publication based in Beirut, Lebanon. The daily has a large online readership mainly from North America, Europe, and Australia. In 2009, its website registered more than 80,000 unique visitors per day. The Daily Star online edition is the Web's leading source of Lebanese and regional news, redesigned to offer breaking news and on-the-spot follow-up. The site publishes pieces regarding news, opinion, sports, business, culture. technology and entertainment.
Facebook: The Daily Star
Al-Jazeera: This is the English-language website of the Qatari broadcast network of the same name. Al-Jazeera is arguably the leading Arab broadcast news network, and gained worldwide attention for its live coverage of the war in Afghanistan. The website covers the major facets of news, as well as human rights, business, and opinion pieces. The organization is notable for its global news coverage on six continents. Although it became independent from the Qatari government in 2011, some criticize Al-Jazeera for still having a pro-Qatari bias.
Facebook: AL Jazeera English
Jadaliyya: Jadaliyya is a free online magazine that provides a unique source of insight and critical analysis that combines scholarship, advocacy, and local knowledge on the Middle East. The website features blog posts, reports and submissions by academics, journalists, activists, and artists about the Middle East. Reports are organized by country as well as topic, including reform, gender, refugees and culture to name a few. Jadaliyya’s reports are well known, being referenced in such newspapers as the New York Times, as well as showing up in academic settings. Overall, Jadaliyya is an all inclusive source with an academic edge.
Did we forget any good ones? Let us know in the comments!