No. 10, Spring/Summer 2003
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GULF WAR THREE: Covering The Coverage

Zanger & Talabani supporters

Chris Gray in Iraqi Kurdistan

Lt. Josh Rushing (U.S. Marines)

Al Jazeera's Ibrahim Helal (left) and Mohammed Jasim Al Ali

Abu Dhabi TV head, Ali Al Ahmed


Dispatches from the Field: perhaps no war in history has been the subject of such up-close, real-time reporting. In between the feeds and one-on-ones that form "the product," satellite journalists were dealing with bureaucracies, war lords, cheap hotels, and intermittent grave danger. Maggie Zanger, who went to Iraqi Kurdistan as a researcher and found herself doing stand-ups for NBC, wrote letters. Chris Gray, picture editor with the BBC NewsNight team in Kurdistan, kept a diary. And, as a reminder of the risks that have led to the death of at least 13 television journalists so far, we append BBC veteran reporter John Simpson's report on the attack in which his translator was killed.

From the Newsrooms of the Gulf: S. Abdallah Schleifer spent the first week of the war visiting Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. In Satellite Television News: Up, Down, and Out in Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, he meditates on phenomena such as the "curious field of force" joining Central Command Headquarters, Al Jazeera, and dozens of TV reporters. In Doha, he conducted an interview with Public Information Officer First Lieutenant Josh Rushing on the army's experience of working with the Western and Arab press, and spoke to Mohammed Jasim Al Ali and Ibrahim Helal about Al Jazeera's war. In Abu Dhabi, he met with Abu Dhabi TV's Ali Al Ahmed and Nart Bouran and heard about the channel's transformation into a 24-hour newscaster, and in Dubai he met with Al Arabiya's Salah Negm, who discussed with him the challenges facing a channel forced to cut its teeth on an almost overwhelming story.

Technologies, Logistics, and Services: the war has not only provided a proving ground for a new style of action-journalism but has also tested technologies, channels' logistical capacities, and the region's press support facilities. In New Compression Technologies Aid War Reporting, Save Cash, David Cass reports on "Laptop News Gathering," while in an interview with Ian Ritchie, the CEO of Associated Press Television News talks to S. Abdallah Schleifer about APTN's response to the logistical and technical challenges of the war. In Video Cairo Sat: the Pressure of War, Noha El-Hennawi describes how the region's largest provider of media services is coping, in Baghdad and elsewhere.


Satellite television coverage of the war has come under intense scrutiny and has stirred controversy. The following series of articles attempts to capture a range of responses across a number of countries. In this issue more than ever, given the strong emotions and diverse positions generated by the war (well reflected even within our own editorial group), we are trying to provide readers and particularly scholars with a sense of different perspectives. Opinions are those of contributors and not necessarily of TBS.

Brian McNair studies the comparative appeal of BBC, Sky, CNN, and ITV News Channel for British viewers in The Iraq War As Seen In Britain: UK Satellite Coverage.

Coverage from the Arab World has been viewed as both impacting on and reflecting the concerns of those most immediately affected by the war, but neither the coverage itself not the response to it is monolithic. The four following articles each provide a part of the larger picture. Hussein Amin reviews some of the responses of viewers in the region in Watching the War in the Arab World while Abbas Al Tonsi's Impressions Of An Arab Viewer On The Satellite Coverage Of The So-Called "War On Iraq" delivers a mordant judgment on both the performance of the Arab channels and the environment in which they operate. In A Palestinian Perspective on Satellite Television Coverage of the Iraq War, In'am El-Obeidi contextualizes and dissects the peculiar intensity with which viewers on the West Bank and in Gaza receive news of the war, and Janet Fine's Al Jazeera Winning TV Credibility War looks at the ratings wars among the Arab channels.

Turkey is one of the region's countries most closely affected by the war, though its satellite media are new to war coverage. Dilruba Catalbas's Divided and Confused: The Reporting of the First Two Weeks of the War in Iraq on Turkish Television Channels and Christine Ogan's Big Turkish Media and the War assess the response of the Turkish channels.

Though not itself a party to it, India stands to win or lose much from the current war. Janet Fine documents how the conflict has impacted on the development of the media in Covering the Iraq War in India.

In Media on Media, TBS's editors initiate an archive of commentary on the media's treatment of the war up to the end of the first week in April, to be continued in future issues. We start by highlighting the impact press coverage can have on ordinary lives in Moral Dilemmas of the Press, containing Eason Jordan's "The News We Kept to Ourselves" and Robert Jensen's "The Unseen War; The Images They Chose and Choose to Ignore" and then provide 26 examples of media self-analysis in Parties to the Conflict.

"Friendly Fire?" - the Peter Arnett Affair provides Peter Arnett's and NBC's own accounts of an incident that exposed and tested the "red lines" of Western journalism, plus Tim Goodman's reflections on its meaning.

TBS managing editor Humphrey Davies may be said to have a love-hate relationship with satellite television at war. As the conflict progressed, the issue posed itself ever more acutely, as he reveals in Credo of a Crouching Couch Potato.

Issues and Developments

Bella Thomas

Cliff Nelson, Showtime's senior VP - marketing with new logos

NewsXchange Ljubljana Panellists

What the World's Poor Watch on TV: Bella Thomas questions some of the myths of "cultural hegemony" in transnational broadcasting.

Could SatMode Be Satellite's "Killer App?": Chris Forrester reports on an ultra-low cost two-way satellite modem and interactive LNB that will be on the market soon.

New Moves for Showtime: Monal Zeidan reports on Showtime's move to Dubai, as well as some new services.

New Media Realities in the Middle East: continuing its presentation of November's NewsXchange discussions in Ljubljana, TBS publishes a transcription of the panel on reporting in a conflict where language is a weapon, "a camera is as dangerous as a gun" (Shimon Peres), and journalists are targets.

News World Dublin - Countdown to Conflict: TBS publishes a transcription of a timely panel discussion on censorship, media management, and journalistic integrity under conditions of war.

News World-the Next Generation: Patrick Stoddart describes News World's training of young journalists from around the world in Dublin in 2002 and looks forward to building on this experiment.

Globalization of Indian Satellite TV Marks 25 Years: Janet Fine charts the rise of transnational broadcasting in India and the "crisis of change."

Conference Report
News World Dublin, November 2002 By Janet Key
Academic Papers

London's Arab Media and the Construction of Arabness By Christa Salamandra

"Glocalization" - a Case History: Commercial Partnerships and Cooperation between Turkish and American Satellite Broadcasters By Dilruba Catalbas

Al Jazeera: Bridging the East-West Gap through Public Discourse and Media Diplomacy By Mohammed el-Nawawy and Leo A. Gher


From the Editors

Arab Broadcasting Resources
Dedicated to helping our readers find the information they need on satellite broadcasting in the Middle East.

Books: "Global Media Go to War" - A Call for Chapters

Conferences, trade shows, and other transnational broadcast-related events from around the world.

Copyright 2003 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the Adham Center for Television Journalism, the American University in Cairo