Media Watchdog: Al Jazeera English 'Generally Fails to Maintain Basic Standards of Accuracy and Accountability'

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January 25, 2019

Media watchdog NewsGuard is urging readers of Al Jazeera English to "proceed with caution" because the news outlet "generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability" and "regularly skews its coverage to promote Qatar," which owns the publication.

According to NewsGuard, Al Jazeera English fails to meet the following journalistic standards: "gathers and presents information responsibly;" "handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly;" "discloses ownership and financing;" "reveals who's in charge, including any potential conflicts of interests;" and "provides names of content creators, along with either contact or biographical information."

The Qatari government owns and funds the Al Jazeera Media Network, of which Al Jazeera English is a part. In 2011, the network changed its legal status from a public organization to a "private institution of public utility."

NewsGuard notes that Al Jazeera English's coverage of Qatar's rivals "consistently skews towards unflattering stories."

"In NewsGuard's opinion, what accurate reporting AJE carries out does not make up for the breach of credibility caused by its propagandistic approach to covering Qatar and its neighbors," the watchdog writes.

A recent New York Times report said that NewsGuard is led by two veteran news executives: Steven Brill, founder of the magazine The American Lawyer, and Gordon Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher. The watchdog has expressed approval of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Daily Beast, and HuffPost. On the other hand, it has urged caution towards InfoWars, Breitbart, and the Daily Kos.

According to the Times, "NewsGuard has created the equivalent of nutrition labels for news organizations, rating more than 2,000 news and information sites with tags: red for unreliable, green for trustworthy. A team of roughly 50 journalists and analysts is making the evaluations."

NewsGuard grants the Washington Free Beacon a green check-mark, observing that the news outlet "generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability."