The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics

Philip Seib, Author . Potomac $24.95 (227p) ISBN 978-1-59797-200-0

Mapping the first large-scale shift away from Western media dominance since the advent of television, Seib (Headline Democracy ) argues that framing conflict in the Middle East as a “clash of civilizations” has outlived its polemical and practical uses. The book makes a convincing case that the rise of Al Jazeera—with its audience of 35 million—reflects how satellite television and the Internet create virtual communities that can significantly influence political policy. Seib cites the example of Hezbollah, a geopolitical group without easily definable territory, and suggests that Al Qaeda is similarly a virtual state existing through the combination of communication and political will. Information is no longer the province of a political elite, according to the author whose wide-ranging evidence includes a fascinating description of how news of the SARS outbreak in China first leaked via text message and in Internet chatrooms. The author also examines how the constant proliferation of perspectives on the Internet, for example, can both mitigate and exacerbate problems of assimilation. Seib constructs an imaginative, thorough and balanced assessment of how news—ever more a dialogue and less an event—is redistributing political power. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/21/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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