Posted by Guest on February 24, 2017 in Blog
By Raneem Alkhatib
As AAI interns, we made a trip to Al Jazeera’s U.S headquarters in DC, on February 24. Al Jazeera covers a wide range of global news, through its television broadcasts, social media and website. Based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera has bureaus all around the world – including Sao Paulo, London, New Delhi, Berlin, Moscow, Toronto, Nairobi, and Tokyo. Omar Baddar, an alumni of the Arab American Institute, and a producer at Al Jazeera, welcomed us inside for a tour on a quiet Friday afternoon. As we walked through the offices, we were welcomed by working journalists and researchers.
He explained the various producer roles, how assignments are made and the team work involved in making a broadcast come together. The show he works on, The Stream, airs Monday through Thursday. We visited The Stream’s set and met one of its co-hosts and digital producers, Malika Bilal. She gave us the behind-the-scenes overview of how a live show works and her tips for dealing with the media. The Stream reports on a wide spectrum of topics, including the environment, social issues and international politics among many other areas.
Both Omar and Malika were happy to answer questions, and share their insight into the world of journalism. At a time when reporting has been put under a microscope, knowing what articles and news sources are trusted and finding nonpartisan, reliable sources has become more difficult by the day. That’s what made this visit so valuable. In a sense, we got to see the challenges from the other side of the fourth estate.
Malika said she enjoys working for Al Jazeera because she feels the freedom to report on things the main stream media may not be covering. The Stream attempts to find topics that are important, but are under reported. They look for guests who are the source, instead of pundits in order to give their viewers a first-hand account. Working for the only live discussion show on the network, Malika also noted how crazy it could get. “Anything can happen,” she laughed, reassuring us that a live show is more exciting than nerve wracking.
We asked them how Al Jazeera’s base in Doha affects what they choose to report on, and if they had the last call on running stories. We had an open and interesting conversation, before moving on to talking about Al Jazeera Arabic and touching on the differences between the two outlets, not only in content but in audience.
We then toured the network’s other sets while the crew explained how the screens and technology of the various shows worked. From hosting international guests via Skype and having roundtable discussions, every detail is planned and prepared. Down the hall, we met another crew editing a segment for Al Jazeera Arabic.
As we finished our tour, we walked back upstairs, past a group of busy journalists who showed no signs of the weekend to come.
Raneem Alkhatib is a Spring 2017 Intern at the Arab American Institute.