La revolución de Al Jazeera cumple diez años

Cuando apareció por primera vez, el nuevo canal satelital que transmitía desde Qatar era un reflejo de su propio nombre. Al Jazeera –el término árabe para “la isla”- representaba un refugio de programación profesional, independiente y de actualidad en un mar de medios árabes tendenciosos y controlados por el gobierno. Hasta que los periodistas de Al Jazeera, en su mayoría entrenados en la BBC, entraron en escena, la dieta de la televisión noticiosa del ciudadano árabe promedio no era más que noticias de protocolo, videos de agencias noticiosas que reflejaban las últimas noticias en el conflicto palestino y fotos dramáticas de terremotos o incendios fuera de control.

Al Jazeera no sólo ofrecía entrevistas en vivo y transmisiones desde el campo; introdujo el debate en vivo en el mundo árabe. Su programa Al Itijah al Mu’akess (“la dirección contraria”) aportaba el tipo de competencia verbal que gran parte del mundo da por sentada, pero que los árabes no habían visto nunca por televisión. Entre los invitados que Faisal Qassem traía a los estudios de Doha (o vía satélite) había gente del mismo país o región árabe, pero que representaba puntos de vista completamente opuestos.

Mientras que programas profesionales de noticias como Al Itijah al Mu’akess les ofrecían a los espectadores una televisión única, hicieron falta conflictos mundiales importantes para que Al Jazeera cantara victoria. La intifada palestina, los ataques terroristas contra Nueva York y Washington en septiembre de 2001 y la invasión de Afganistán e Irak impulsaron a Al Jazeera a ejercer una influencia a nivel global.

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