By Dr. Khalid Al-Shafi / Editor-in-Chief
When Al Jazeera started in 1996 in Doha, there was no diversity in Arab media landscape and the TV channel managed to reach audience in different places and introduced the ‘opinion and counter-opinion’ for the first time in the region. Officials in many countries opposed the programme, and many others disagreed with its editorial policies while others questioned the motive behind its launch.
Al Jazeera continued its clear and impartial editorial policy, offering different opinions but in one professional media voice. The channel started with a number of well-known and professional journalists who made it compete with the world’s most famous and well-established channels.
It faced huge pressure to change its opinions and address the regional issues from a certain point of view but did not surrender, thanks to the clarity of its objectives and the support provided by our wise leadership who were aware of the price to be paid for media freedom which the country has adopted.
In the past twenty years, Al Jazeera has become the top Arabic TV channel whatever differences you may have, and you have to acknowledge that it is the channel which ended the monopoly of some news sources and carried exclusive stories. Al Jazeera’s experience and success has become a subject for postgraduate studies.
I am not here to count its achievements, because the reality on the ground and the media scene emphasizes the facts that Al Jazeera is valued addition to the media landscape and has made great difference on media used to repeat –received and left.
Thanks to Al Jazeera for opening our minds and enlightening us with views and ideas and for making audiences note the differences in global news coverage. I hope it will continue its mission of enhancing the concept of media freedom and impartiality in editorial policies.
Congratulations to Al Jazeera and all those who made it what it is today and all journalists for the outstanding success, in their march towards more success and advancement.