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Propaganda: Can you tell the difference between al Shabaab and al Jazeera?

The article below was written by IWP alumnus Nicholas Hanlon. Nicholas earned his Master of the Arts degree in 2012.

Imagine a university undergraduate student asking a professor how to know which sources to trust for his or her research paper.  In today’s world you may also have to imagine that the professor won’t be able to help that student distinguish the difference between the BBC, CNN, Pravda, Huffington Post, Russia Today, or an al Shabaab recruiting video.

Now imagine that the research topic is the Kenyan struggle to protect its people from al Shabaab’s campaign of domestic terrorist attacks, drive-by slayings of pastors, Muslim youth crime mobs, and al Qaeda-backed recruiting networks using local mosques to send Kenya’s young men to the battlefront in Somalia.

In recent years al Jazeera, after much investment, has achieved the look, feel, and interface of a western media conglomerate.  Clearly mimicking Reuters, BBC, and Bloomberg, al Jazeera produces a body of mundane and normal journalism by western standards.  Over time, younger minds acclimate to the normalcy of al Jazeera.

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