Addressing a region? The Arab imagined audience and newsworthiness in the production of Al Jazeera Arabic
journal contributionposted on 23.01.2018, 09:31 by Julian Matthews, Maiya Al Habsi
Based on a production study of Al Jazeera Arabic, this paper examines news professionals’ visualisation of the Arab news audience and its importance for their ideas about newsworthiness and an ideal news agenda. In applying the concept of the imagined audience to Al Jazeera, it uncovers a view of Arab news consumers as constructed as (i) heterogeneous in character and origin and as sharing (ii) a ‘mindset’ and an experience of (iii) voicelessness. Further, it shows that these understandings help to grasp the specifics of journalists’ news making practices, including their efforts to prioritize potential stories for an ideal news agenda that demonstrate relevance for, or interest to, these imagined news consumers in addition to those stories that address their perceived ‘powerlessness’ in the Arab region. The paper concludes that these ideas mark clear boundaries around the countries and the issues that Al Jazzera seeks to report on.