An Evaluation of Alhurra Television Programming

Principal Investigator:
Philip Seib

Nicholas Cull and Patricia Riley

Research Manager:
Shawn Powers

Publication: An Evaluation of Alhurra Television Programming

An Evaluation of Alhurra Television Programming is a multi-method evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of Alhurra, an American-Arabic news network, and its news broadcasting to the Middle East. The study is based upon a content analysis of over 75 hours of Alhurra's news programming, 3 working groups with over 40 Arab journalists and professors of media and journalism studies at universities across the Middle East. This study was the first of its kind, the first systematic evaluation of Alhurra's journalistic quality, combined with in-depth discussions with opinionated leaders in the region. The content analysis used the Middle East Broadcasting Network's Journalistic Code of Ethics, a federal rule book that guides Alhurra's journalistic mission and integrity, to evaluate Alhurra's news programming. In addition, expert working groups used group discussions among leaders in the Middle East to contextualize how Alhurra's programming was received.

Results: The study found that Alhurra did not provide news and topical programming tailored to the interests of its Arab audience. Not only was the quality of its journalism substandard, its connection to the Bush Administration and American government in general hindered its ability to be received as a credible news source. The largest complaints were 1) western-world bias in reporting, or a dominating American perspective in direct contrast with the Arab perspective, 2) news data that was unsubstantiated, and 3) a failure to understand the "Arab Street," a metaphor used to describe popular opinion in the Muslim world, which has become a necessity for significant viewership in today's media-saturated environment (Slate News 2011). The study reports that the status quo of Alhurra's operations undermines American efforts to improve American foreign policy and public relations with the region, and as such, recommends an overhaul of the program.