Arab Media, Corporate Media, and Public Relations: The Case of Al Jazeera
Zayani, Mohamed, 1965-
Over the past few decades, public relations has developed significantly in the West into a sophisticated management function which is recognized as an integral part of any organization's attempt to communicate with various persons, both within and outside the organization, in order to achieve its goals and objectives. However, this is not the case in the Arab world where public relations remains underdeveloped and, even when practised, is relatively unsophisticated. This paper deals with the public relations function in a prominent though controversial Arab media organization: Al Jazeera Satellite Channel. It explores how Al Jazeera has been dealing with internal and external communication issues impelled initially by its role as a satellite broadcaster spearheading changes in a vibrant Arab mediascape and subsequently by its expansion into a global broadcaster. Drawing on James Grunig's four models of communication to analyze Al Jazeera's public relations practices, the case study at hand outlines some of the communication challenges and opportunities the organization has been facing during its 10 years of existence. The case of an indigenous organization like Al Jazeera operating in a culturally distinct environment puts into perspective communications issues and complicates our understanding of how public relations is understood and practised outside the normative Western public relations paradigm.
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