As part of Northwestern University in Qatar’s (NU-Q) Al Jazeera Speaker Series, Giles Trendle, acting managing director of Al Jazeera English, discussed the channel’s approach to the evolving media landscape and the rapid advancement of digital journalism.
Trendle started his career with Al Jazeera Network in 2004, working with the Arabic channel to produce content for ‘Top Secret,’ its investigative documentary show. Later, he joined Al Jazeera English’s documentary show ‘Witness.’ Today, Trendle directs Al Jazeera English’s programmes and manages the channel’s strategy and content-producing departments.
According to NU-Q dean and CEO Everette E Dennis, Trendle has been supportive of NU-Q, its students, and its alumni. He said that Trendle has worked closely with NU-Q on a number of collaborative projects, including strategic workshops that the university has provided for the network. He added that Trendle’s commitment to supporting journalists who provide coverage of many unreported stories is a significant contribution to the network’s success, and it is also an important reason why many of their students hope to work with the channel after graduation.
Trendle, in response, said that Al Jazeera has worked with many NU-Q students and graduates, both as interns and full-time employees.
During his talk for the NU-Q community, Trendle shared highlights of his career as a journalist, which started in the mid-1980s when he started as a freelance reporter covering the Lebanese Civil War. Many of the challenges and issues he faced as a young reporter, he said, still resound with journalists today—such as identifying story angles and avoiding bias.
Responding to a question about online reporting, Trendle discussed how Al Jazeera is developing new approaches to condense stories for online viewers.
We have a whole new audience online that we need to access and address. Online audiences enjoy content that is shorter, with more animations, imagery, and infographics, rather than longer narrated pieces.’
One NU-Q journalism student asked Trendle about his thoughts on how to pitch a local story to an international news outlet and how to make the stories more relevant to global audiences. Trendle advised that in proposing the story, the journalist should be conscious of the fact that a news outlet has a commercial and political agenda. He said that this is crucial to understanding what would be of interest to the editors or news producers.
Al Jazeera is one of the university’s key partners in Doha, providing speakers from the media network to speak to faculty, students, and staff about the future of journalism and media communication, as well as inviting NU-Q faculty to provide strategic training sessions for Al Jazeera.
Several NU-Q alumni also work at Al Jazeera Media Network entities, including producing sports programmes at BeIN, reporting for Al Jazeera Arabic and English websites, and animating and producing programmes at Jeem, Al Jazeera’s channel for children.
For more information on NU-Q’s journalism programme, visit qatar.northwestern.edu.