Control Room (2004)
Directed by: Jehane Noujaim

Premise: A documentary film about the Al Jezeera news channel and general news coverage in the Iraq War.

What Works: The film gives us a look inside of the inner workings of Al Jezeera and lets the audience meet its staff. This is a very humanizing look at the news industry, which is business largely portrayed and perceived negatively. It also hints at the subtle ways in which personal agendas get into news. We also get to see the everyday operations of a major news channel and how decisions about coverage are made.

What Doesn’t: The film hints at the differences between the American news channels and Al Jezeera but does not actually show us the contrasts and so a more elaborate exploration of the differences between these news sources and their impact on the culture is not available.

DVD extras: Commentary track by the director and cinematographer, commentary track by Captain John Rushing, central command press officer, commentary by Al Jazeera senior producers Hassan Ibrahim and Samir Khader, deleted scenes.

Bottom Line: Control Room should be required viewing for students and participants in journalism and mass media. This film explores how media constructs meaning and that this meaning has larger political and social implications especially when it comes from a news source.

 

Episode:  #31 (December 12, 2004)