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Asharq Al-Awsat: Verdict: Combination of Regional News & Views

December 8, 2009

Asharq Al-Awsat ( 1978) is a London based  bilingual (English, Arabic)daily publication.

Mission – It describes itself as “the decisive publication on pan- Arab and international affairs”. Asharq Al-Awsat prides itself for being “the only newspaper to own the Arabic copyright” for such newsmakers as The Washington Post, USA Today and global viewpoint.

Content – The publication covers variety of issues: Business, Style and Culture, Media, Technology as well as daily news. The latest issues (December 6, 2009)  has reports on H1N1 virus reaching Gaza Strip, draining plan of Lake Misk and of course the Budai crisis which speaks for the diversity of issues they consider newsworthy.

The publication sometimes used stories by AP and Reuters. Mainly reports coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. This perhaps can be explained by the dangerous conditions and excessive expanses associated with having reporters in war zones.

One of the main stories by Ali Sharaya and Amal Baqzi touched upon Lake Misk and the draining plan within a year. In a 800+ word article they used 5-6 sources and gave an insightful look into the issue.

Web look– The overall web design is clean. The web site uses a built-in calendar which automatically posts the date and time indicating that the content is fresh every day. Readers can leave comments and e-mail articles and thus engage into a dialogue with the publication.

The web page has limited graphics and focuses on words rather than images. Despite that some of the main contributors (editors and columnists) have their photos attached to their articles with a short bio.

For example, Tariq Alhomayed, the editor of the Asharq Al-Awsat, in his editorial piece “Iran … and Political Hallucination!” wrote about Iranian president and his policies. He mainly argued that the president’s policies and rhetoric steams on illusions and speculation with public’s emotions. The nature of the article was critical and one sided, however acceptable, as it was placed in the opinion / editorial section. Nevertheless, it will be premature to claim that the reports are balanced and responsible.

The publication’s content in Arabic is visually different. It will be interesting to hear from those who read and speak both languages and who can trace differences between the two versions of the publication.

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