No News is Bad News
Too many Americans think that if they watch the news on Channel 5 or 2 or 7, or Fox or CNN, that they will know what is going on in the world. That just isn’t so.
The news we are presented is hugely USA-centric. A 5 car pile up on the freeway will get more airtime than a flood that covers 30% of Pakistan. Most Americans can’t find Malawi on a map, and you can go from one year to the next without hearing about that nation unless Madonna adopts a kid from there.
So it was with considerable pleasure that I saw this article:
Al Jazeera English Finds an Audience
Published: January 31, 2011
White House officials have turned to Al Jazeera English among other television channels to monitor the mounting protests in Egypt. But most Americans lack the same ability to tune in to the broadcaster, which is based in Qatar, because cable and satellite companies in the United States have largely refused its requests to be carried
I like Al Jazeera–and no, they aren’t some fundamentalist Islamic mouthpiece. They don’t portray the USA as the great Satan. They don’t slant their news against Israel. In general, I find their coverage to be pretty fair minded, giving both sides to a story and not pushing a political point of view.
Many of the Al Jazeera journalists have been recruited from CNN and the BBC. They have good journalistic reputations, and intend to keep them.
The middle East is pretty important to us, and without Al Jazeera we have little way of learning what is really going on. Life would be easier if we could tune in on our local cable stations, and if enough people make a little noise perhaps that will happen.
But then we are up against:
During the Iraq war, the Arabic-language channel was criticized by Bush administration officials, and as recently as Friday the conservative Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly branded Al Jazeera as “anti-America.”
The Bush administration were the ones who promised we would find WMD’s in Iraq, their opinion of Al Jazeera was just as valid. We don’t need ignorant rabble-rousing demagogues like O’Reilly deciding what we can and cannot watch. His definition of anti-American is somewhat different than mine–I’m capable of listening to people with other points of view without needing to demonize them.
Meanwhile, Americans by the million are tuning in over the net. You can just click here and it will come up on your screen. There is an iPhone app which will stream Al Jazeera to your iPhone, too.
Go ahead. Expand your mind. See what’s happening in the rest of the world. It will do you good.