Wadah Khanfar on how the Arab Spring transformed journalism
The former head of Al Jazeera denies allegations that the network was in any way partisan under his watch, a criticism frequently levelled at the broadcaster, which is funded by the emir of Qatar.
Wadah Khanfar, the former director general of the Al-Jazeera Network, speaks to Free Speech Debate about the integration of social media and citizen journalism within traditional newsrooms following the 2011 Middle East uprisings. “That concept changed with the arrival of the Arab Spring because of the necessity newsrooms faced in gathering news from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen when governments cracked down on official or professional journalism and mainstream broadcasters,” he says. Khanfar believes that the interplay between new and traditional media has further given rise to a new generation of “smart bloggers” who despite not having formal journalism qualifications have mastered many of the profession’s minimum standards of best practice. In the interview, Khanfar denies allegations that Al-Jazeera’s coverage was in any way partisan under his watch – a criticism frequently levelled at the broadcaster, which is funded by the emir of Qatar. Partisan media, he adds, has no place in society as it only leads to “fragmentation and chaos”.