Local News

Arab Translators

Posted April 12, 2004

— According to the United States military, nine Americans are missing in Iraq: seven civilians and two U.S. soldiers.

They all disappeared after their convoys were ambushed.

Video of the hostages is getting plenty of air time on Arab television. The Al-Jazeera network is broadcast around the world, including here if you have a satellite dish, offering up an interesting portrayal of the images overseas.

North Carolina State University professor Akram Khater watches Al-Jazeera at home off the satellite. It is one of 20 news outlets from the U.S. and around the world that he checks on a daily basis.

Military briefings top the news. Basic facts are the same. But the tone and language are different.

"For example," Khater said, "they don't call it the coalition forces. They call it occupation forces. Although it sounds like two separate words, it really gives a whole different perspective."

There also is a difference in the interpretation of events. Khater said Arab TV networks tend to be a little more sympathetic to the Iraqi fighters who are engaged in battle with U.S. forces.

Khater also said Arab TV shows video that is much more graphic than what is shown in the U.S. He said Arab coverage also often includes more pictures of women and children.

Al-Jazeera used to be one of the only news sources in the Arab world. Now there is a lot more competition.

Coincidentally, Al-Jazeera aired a story about the struggles of the Arab press. They feel scrutinized by the American military and lack the security that embedded American reporters have going into dangerous areas.

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