by STEPHEN J. FARNSWORTH, S. ROBERT LICHTER and ROLAND SCHATZ for POLITICO on SEPTEMBER 15, 2013:
As President Barack Obama tries to stop the bleeding in Syria, contain the terrorist threats from Al Qaeda in Yemen and restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, he has an unlikely ally: the leading Arabic broadcasters, which provide surprisingly positive coverage of his government.
A detailed content analysis of nightly television reports of five key Arabic language media outlets — Al Jazeera, the region’s dominant broadcaster; Al Arabiya, linked to the Saudi royal family; Nile News, based in Egypt; the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.; and Al-Manar, linked to Hezbollah — found them more positive about Obama during his first 18 months in office than key European broadcasters and the U.S. television networks.
The findings, part of a study by Media Tenor Ltd., a provider of international content analysis, challenge frequent claims about anti-U.S. media in the Arab region. The research also speaks to the effectiveness of U.S. government efforts to court the international media.
Stephen J. Farnsworth is professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington; S. Robert Lichter is professor of communication at George Mason University; and Roland Schatz is president of Media Tenor Ltd. They are authors of “Global President: International Media and the U.S. Government,” (Rowman & Littlefield, August 2013).