When Al Jazeera landed the first video of a dead Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday, there wasn’t much time for developing a global distribution strategy. In an extended Q&A with TheWrap.com’s Lucas Shaw, news network spokesman Osama Saeed described the day.
We have maintained a strong presence in Libya even after Tripoli fell. Though there has been a general drop off, we’ve maintained our presence there. Tony knew what was happening in Sirte, and he was the first journalist in there. As such, when people had footage of what happened, he was on hand to receive it…. The footage was compelling, people requested it, people took it. We’re happy so long as they credit the Al-Jazeera exclusive.
The Arab Spring has raised Al Jazeera’s profile and increased calls for its wider availability in the United States, in some ways making the network part of the news.
With Al-Jazeera network worldwide, we’ve got a particular history in this region. For Al-Jazeera Arabic, we were the first free channel within the region, and so what ran us into trouble with regimes such as Gaddafi’s and Mubarak’s was the fact that we were not state-controlled, not pliant with cozy relationships that a lot of these dictatorships had with each other, arrangements of not covering each other’s affairs. We really shone a light and gave a voice to the people. People within the region have been grateful for fact that they have been told, but this year has been at the forefront of the world’s imagination for obvious reasons.
Related: News organizations defend airing gruesome Gadhafi death video (Hollywood Reporter)