Suffering Up Close: The Strategic Construction of Mediated Suffering on Al Jazeera English

Tine Ustad Figenschou


With national Western media as a point of departure, the literature on distant suffering emphasizes the geographical, cultural, and editorial distance between Western media professionals and viewers, and between both of those groups and the stories of suffering in the rest of the world. Through examples from the Qatari satellite channel Al Jazeera English, this article argues that mediated suffering can also be understood as something close to us. The channel literally goes closer and zooms in, exposes, personalizes, and authorizes the experience of suffering in conflicts and disasters. This construction of mediated closeness is suited to engendering strong feelings of compassion in media audiences, but it also serves to raise new ethical dilemmas in political argument and institutional strategy.

Full Text: