Social networking sites are increasingly becoming popular platforms for traditional news outlets to reach and engage readers. A study conducted by Ahmed Al-Rawi of the Communication Studies department at the Concordia University in Canada examined Facebook pages of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia, two television channels in the Middle East.
The study analyzed 626,576 comments to explore the kinds of sentiments users expressed and news stories which attracted most of the online audience comments.
The most recurrent words in the Facebook posts of Al-Jazeera TV included several Arab ﬁgures like Sisi, Morsi and Bashar as well as many words used in supplication and prayers, especially to express negative sentiments like cursing or condemning someone.
The audiences often expressed opposing sentiments on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya Facebook pages, but there was a general sympathy and a sense of helplessness toward the events taking place in the Arab and Islamic wrld speciﬁcally in Syria and Egypt.
On the Al-Jazeera Facebook page, references to Egypt were more dominant than those on Syria, and there was a much stronger positive sentiment and support for Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood, while clear antagonism and negative sentiments against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Bashar Al-Assad were articulated in different ways.
Audiences of Al-Arabiya channel mostly commented on sports and human interest news stories followed by regional and international politics and conflict and internal politics.
On the other hand, Al-Jazeera online public mostly commented on internal politics and conﬂict, regional and international politics and conﬂict and sports and human interest.
Source: Al-Rawi, A. (2017). Assessing public sentiments and news preferences on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. International Communication Gazette, 79(1), 26-44.