15 June, 2021

When The Mirror Looks Back

A sock on the jaw or a warm hug depending on whose side you are on

When The Mirror Looks Back

It’s not often when a phone rings in the newsroom, that you pick it up and find yourself speaking to a senior US State Department official from Washington, asking for ‘their version’ to be included in a story you released just a few minutes earlier. You then remember that this isn’t just any newsroom. It’s Al Jazeera’s. You also realise it is no great surprise that the biggest power on the planet would be keeping tabs on a website that threatens the West’s monopoly on news flow.

It was March 2003. Ours was a fledgling website. The US had invaded Iraq a few days earlier. Mind you, I use the word ‘invaded’ instead of describing it as a ‘war’, the word most Western wire services preferred. But in the Al Jazeera newsroom, we outvoted ‘war’ in favour of ‘invasion’ because that was what it was.

In the tumultuous, chaotic and oftentimes charged atmosphere of the newsroom in the initial days of the English language website, we, a small...

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