New Study Analyzing Al Jazeera and Arab Viewers Offers Implications for Public Diplomacy
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
A new study led by my brother Erik Nisbet, a professor of communication at Ohio State University, offers several revealing implications for public diplomacy across Arab states. From the OSU Research News Service.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite the fears of some Americans, Arab television networks such as Al Jazeera do not promote anti-American feelings among all their viewers, according to a new study.
Research based on surveys of nearly 20,000 residents of six Arab countries suggests that while watching networks like Al Jazeera fuels anti-American feelings in some viewers, it actually reduces such sentiment in others.
The results suggest that it is too simplistic to blame the Arab media for stoking resentment and hatred of America, said Erik Nisbet, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.
“Arab TV viewers aren’t getting a single, unified anti-American message from networks like Al Jazeera,” Nisbet said.
“Viewers interpret the messages they get from Al Jazeera through the lens of their own political identity.”
Whether Arab TV networks inflamed anti-American passions depended on how those surveyed defined their main political identity – specifically, whether they saw themselves primarily as Arab nationalists, Muslim nationalists or as devoted primarily to their own country, Nisbet said.
Nisbet conducted the study with Teresa Myers, a post-doctoral researcher in communication at Ohio State. Their research was published online today in the journal Communication Research and will appear in a future print edition.
Read the rest of the release.
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