Challenging authority in cyberspace: Evaluating Al Jazeera Arabic writers
The Arab Spring has been widely branded as a social media revolution. Evidence has shown that many Arab citizens consider Al Jazeera one of the most popular and credible Arab news networks, making it important to explore the manner and the extent to which this media network may have impacted the Revolution. One way to do so is by examining the meaning, configuration, and providers of the Al Jazeera network's news content. This exploration seems to raise important questions: what are the contents of Al Jazeera's Arabic politico-religious articles? Are political writers revolutionaries in their views? Do they identify with the Arab mainstream or with a political/ideological group, or do they court the interests of Arab states? To what extent are writers affected by their country of origin, their ideological affiliations, or the country in which Al Jazeera is based-Qatar? This article attempts to answer these questions by analyzing the fluidity and the complexities of a sample of articles collected from Al Jazeera's Arabic political columns between 30 January and 31 August 2011. In doing so, this article contributes to a timely discussion of social media, religion, and authority in the Arab world by presenting a case study of the political content of one of the Arab world's leading media outlets.
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