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Al Jazeera Gets a US Voice 444

Posted by Soulskill
from the hopefully-it's-not-gilbert-gottfried's-voice dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Al Jazeera plans to start an English-language channel available in more than 40 million U.S. homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar. They announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore seven years ago. But the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch the award winning network with 71 bureaus around the world — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. 'There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it's a "terrorist network,"' says Philip Seib. 'Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.' With a handful of exceptions, American cable and satellite distributors have mostly refused to carry Al Jazeera English since its inception in 2006. While the television sets of White House officials and lawmakers were tuned to the channel during the Arab Spring in 2011, ordinary Americans who wanted to watch had to find a live stream on the Internet. Al Jazeera's Robert Wheelock said, We offer an alternative. It's a broader coverage of news. It's a broader spectrum into countries that aren't traditionally covered.'"
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Al Jazeera Gets a US Voice

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  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Saturday January 05, 2013 @08:34PM (#42491447) Homepage Journal

    Subject: I expect Fox News to report on this heavily.

    After all, a non American involved in US broadcasting is clearly beyond the pale.

    That was sarcasm, right? K. Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox News Channel's parent company Fox Group (formerly News Corporation), isn't even as American as Barack Obama.

  • Re:Source of truth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flyneye (84093) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @08:45PM (#42491529) Homepage

    Oddly enough, I'm pretty impressed with Al Jezeeras online coverage of the mideast. That should say a lot since I am sympathetic to the Jews in Israel and a complete cynic about the newsclowns domestically and in Europe.
    I'd rather read that than most of the crap I run into in the world.

  • by surfdaddy (930829) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @08:59PM (#42491645)
    I've watched it a few times and came away impressed. My initial impression that it would be "Arab Propaganda" was changed to a belief that it is in some ways more open-minded than US journalism. It doesn't hurt to listen to multiple perspectives. They appear to be working very hard to do legitimate news in a very serious way.
  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @09:02PM (#42491673) Homepage Journal

    I read Al Jazeera's English website regularly. They provide good news, good video clips, and seem right up there with the BBC or CBC for the quality of their reporting.

    But unlike the BBC and CBC, a lot of their news is about Asia and Africa, areas which aren't even *mentioned* on "mainstream" channels unless there is a major disaster or a few dozen people killed.

    Oddly enough, they manage to cover the world with only one front page to their website, the same screen real-estate that the other channels have.

    In comparison, the BBC and CBC are "local" news channels. And the US news feeds are just a freakin' joke -- they don't cover anything that can't be directly related to US white house policy. Navel-gazing waste of time -- no wonder most Americans are so ignorant about world politics and economic issues.

  • Re:Source of truth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nrrqshrr (1879148) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @09:21PM (#42491793)
    Well, it heavily depends on which Al Jazeera you watched, the English or the Arabic speaking one. The former is pretty objective and neutral, the latter is trying to establish new records in how biased they can be.
    Heck, just for an example, after the revolutions that swiped the region, Al Jazeera English covered the elections in a pretty neutral way, they only showed regular people voting and stuff. The Arabic one had images of the leader of the Islamist party in Tunisia, voting and showing off with his friends, running all day long. I guess they keep it this way knowing their "target audiences".

    One interesting result of all this, though, is a huge loss of popularity for Al Jazeera in these countries (mainly Tunisia and Egypt). In part because, now that the revolutions ended and a semi-democratic climate is avialable, less biased news sources appeared and Al Jazeera can't claim it's role as the "Sole source of real infos". And also probably because everyone here understood the game Quatar is playing. They financed the winning team and they are reaping the benefits in "Honest opportunities for our benefactors to help us "finance" our economic rebuilding efforts".
  • Re:Source of truth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Livius (318358) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @10:31PM (#42492243)

    Arabic language journalism seems to be about where English language journalism was about 300 years ago.

    Hopefully they will catch up, and hopefully stop about 30 or 40 years ago when the English language profession was at its high point, and not follow all the way to the degenerate crap that we have now.

  • by isorox (205688) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @11:26PM (#42492501) Homepage Journal

    I read Al Jazeera's English website regularly. They provide good news, good video clips, and seem right up there with the BBC or CBC for the quality of their reporting.

    But unlike the BBC and CBC, a lot of their news is about Asia and Africa, areas which aren't even *mentioned* on "mainstream" channels unless there is a major disaster or a few dozen people killed.

    Oddly enough, they manage to cover the world with only one front page to their website, the same screen real-estate that the other channels have.

    In comparison, the BBC and CBC are "local" news channels. And the US news feeds are just a freakin' joke -- they don't cover anything that can't be directly related to US white house policy. Navel-gazing waste of time -- no wonder most Americans are so ignorant about world politics and economic issues.

    The BBC gives a tailored page depending on where you're connecting from.

    In the U.S. You get the U.S. front page. That's what americans want. I'm currently sat in Singapore, the stories on the front page are
    MAIN
    * Venezuela
    * India
    * Sudan

    VIDEO
    * Spain
    * USA
    * Czech Republic
    * UK

    Special report
    * arab uprisings
    * eurozone

    Now if I go through a U.S. proxy it's similar, drops the Sudan piece for some non-news on yet-another-shooting in Colorado. The in depth reports are different though.

    * Venezuela
    * India
    * Colorado

    VIDEO
    * Venezuela
    * Bolivia
    * Denmark

    SPECIAL REPORTS
    * China
    * US Election
    * US Sex Slaves

    It's only very recently that BBC World has become more widely viewable in the u.s.,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2013 @11:51PM (#42492619)

    In other words the viewers of Fox News. Fox News is more closely aligned with terrorism in the form of activities spreading fear to terrorize the public in hopes of making political changes. The definition of terrorism is Fox News.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @12:00AM (#42492665) Homepage Journal

    Al Jazeera is probably no better (or worse) than any of the american news networks.

    Al Jazeera are vastly better than American news networks. Vastly. First and foremost, they actually report on things that do not directly concern the USA. And when they do report on events in which the US is involved, the consider other perspectives, giving equal weight.

    If you want news from Africa, Central or South America, from the Asia-Pacific region - or hell, anywhere East of Iran - Al Jazeera is your best possible source. They have a great network of solid, professional journalists. They also recruit widely from outside the Beltway when bringing in outside analysis. Rather than balance, they tend to rely on expertise. The tone of their interview/discussion shows is respectful but quite pointed. Their interviewers generally avoid 'gotcha' questions, instead trying to legitimately present the ramifications of current events.

    As an example, if you want to understand the current tension between Islamism and progressivism in Egypt, there is no other source that even comes close. People who claim they are apologists for Islamic fundamentalism are just... wrong. Yes, they give time to the Muslim Brotherhood, because they're the largest faction in the fucking government right now. You simply cannot claim to understand the news if you ignore them.

    To use a less charged example, Al Jazeera's coverage of China's expansion into sub-Saharan Africa is simply world class. They don't weight their analysis with geopolitical or ideological bias, but neither do they pull any punches when demonstrating the economic, social and political tensions that have arisen as a result. Most refreshingly, their reporting is based on good old investigative journalism. They report from the factories, warehouses and marketplaces where the effects are most vivid. To my limited knowledge, no other news service has even come close.

    Al Jazeera does have a blind spot. There is virtually no mention of any bad news originating from Qatar, whose royal family sponsors them. They give more time to Libya, Egypt and Syria than to Bahrain and Iran (which is a short missile ride across the water). There is virtually no mention whatsoever of the US presence in Qatar or Bahrain, and no criticism whatsoever. But the unspoken diktat from the Crown Prince seems to be 'here's a short list of things you cannot talk about, but you are free to do what you like in every other respect.' It's not a perfect situation by a long stretch, but it's better than the global blind spot that US networks have to anything that doesn't impact their interests.

    Unfortunately, that's not a particularly strong supporting argument ...

    Viewed from the outside world, the US television media establishment is a sad, sad joke. I travel a lot in the Asia-Pacific region, and though I keep trying, I cannot watch CNN for more than a couple of minutes at a time. The other news channels don't even get a look in. It's the BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, or nothing, I'm sorry to say.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @12:16AM (#42492725) Journal

    Entirely different points of law.

    The 'full faith and credit' clause explicitly requires each state to honor the assorted official paperwork of the other states.

    Arizona's legal trouble had nothing to do with other states failing to give it full faith and credit; but with the feds arguing that Article 6, clause 2:

    "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

    made Arizona's de-facto attempt at doing their own immigration enforcement(generally recognized as an enumerated federal power) null because of the supremacy of federal law already governing that matter.

    (The 'you look sorta mexican to me, show me your papers' aspect of it also had people concerned about the implications for the due process and equal protections clauses of the 14th amendment; but I don't think that that ended up being the deciding factor.)

    Incidentally, the big 'full faith and credit' case, that has never had its day in court, for whatever reason, is probably the one that would erupt if a homosexual couple duly married according to the procedures of a state where such is legal were to demand that a state where it isn't(or is overtly banned at the constitutional level) give full faith and credit to the actions of the state that married them. That one would get a bit touchy...

  • Re:frosty piss (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @12:16AM (#42492729) Journal

    Al Jazeera still has actual journalists on the ground in countries making the news, like Egypt, Syria, and Lybia. It's sad, but the New York Times, which still has more live reporting than any other major US newspaper, can't compete with the real life reporting Al Jazeera can do. They just don't have the money to make that possible. Because of it's fantastic presence in the Middle East, I'm happy about Al Jazeera gaining a channel to reach Americans.

    However, people reading Al Jazeera should know the background of this source, just like readers of Fox News should know about Rupert Murdoch (which they don't - but that's another post). Al Jazeera is owned and run by the Emir of Qatar. This guy has done some things that impress me, though a lot of it's scary. He overthrew his father as Emir, claiming his father was corrupt and was misusing the government's assets for himself. He was probably right. He did a lot of things to modernize Qatar, and did a very impressive job. He's positioned tiny Qatar as an intellectual leader in the Middle East, much due to Al Jazeera, Qatar now plays a central roll in the Arab Spring and evolution of the Middle East. For Americans to miss out on this influential news source makes us weaker.

    Then there's the side of Al Jazeera that pisses me off. When that pretty blond western journalist was brutally raped in Cairo during the Egyptian uprising against Mubarak, Al Jazeera deleted all posts that mentioned it. The Emir has a political agenda, and anything that goes against that agenda is banned from Al Jazeera. That agenda includes making the Middle East the "good guys" while allowing the rest of the world to appear to be the "bad guys". That's why westerners can be raped with no reporting, but if a westerner insults Islam, Al Jazeera is happy to fan the flames of anger - anger that resulted in the death of our ambassador to Libya.

    So, by all means, allow Americans to learn what Al Jazeera has to say. There is no better news source to represent the Middle East. At the same time, let's all feel free to be seriously pissed off at Al Jazeera, because they deserve it. How much like Fox News is this?

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:01AM (#42492953) Journal
    Oh, it gets even better. McCain actually wasn't born in America, he was born in Panama.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:41AM (#42493795)

    I can't believe this was modded insightful. Maybe you should actually come to live and work in Israel instead of relying on Google and networks such as Al Jazeera (funded by people who call for the destruction of Israel and Jews among other peoples) before you judge us in Israel. It's even more disgusting you use Kristallnacht to talk about how things are here in relation to what I assume you mean is the Palestinians. Comparing us to Nazis is about the sickest thing you can do.

    I will quickly add that we receive the broadcasts from Al Jezeera in Israel and have for a long time, and it's a mix of attempts at unbiased coverage with often and unsurprisingly very slanted and censored journalism (but just a different kind than CNN or others).

    I don't know where you are getting your facts about Israel though. I and many of us would be happy to take you around our country. I think South Africans in particular, especially Israeli ones would be particularly offended by your comment there as well as they really lived in an apartheid country.

    I also assure you people are not starving first of all and that the Falfel is not bad in some places in some parts of the West Bank. If you think Wikipedia is a great source, then I raise you this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_Middle_East_and_North_Africa (note Palestinians are 8th overweight in the world!).

    Regarding checkpoints, last time I checked, America also had checkpoints at its borders and even within the US. Have you ever driven North from San Diego on the 5 for example or in parts of Arizona, Texas, etc. ? I'm not saying America is great with this or even Israel, but checkpoints are sometimes a reality. Things can be done better, surely, but you try living in a place where your husbands, wives, children, and friends are constantly under the threat of real terrorism, and not just the theater you sometimes see in the US. Did you know Israelis, yes, Israeli citizens cannot even go to certain towns and cities, both in the so-called territories and some places even inside of undisputed parts of Israel? What other country has problems like these and keeps its own citizens out? The reason is if I go to Gaza, I will die. I can't say the opposite is true and at worst if someone comes without permission they might be arrested and sent back unless they are trying to blow something up.

    I personally have worked checkpoints during my reserve duty and I can tell you that I have found bomb materials in bags of children, women with detonator components, and men holding sick children trying to sneak in weapons. We have found things many times in ambulances, which is against every law of decency. Maybe you don't realize, but we need to keep our people safe and doing this is sometimes uncomfortable for everyone. We protect everyone, and this includes Arab Israelis, many of whom are Muslim, as well as other religious and ethnic groups such as Druze. And guess what, many of them serve at checkpoints and are among the most vigilant and suspicious people you will find. Every nation deserves the right to protect itself and checkpoints are an international norm at border crossings. And you know what else is a miracle? At the borders and within some of these places thousands of people pass every day without issues. Believe me when I say that no Israelis want to work checkpoints, especially not when you are 19, have to sit in some terrible place no matter the weather, and risk being blown up, shot, kidnapped, or stabbed every day.

    I could try to explain to you forever about who owns what, archaeology, history, and regional politics, but I am not sure based on your comments that you would listen. I can tell you from my perspective as someone who has served in the army here and been going to places like Gaza and Ramalah all my life what has happened. Imagine living in a place where literally your people's history is all around you and has been usurped by multiple cultures and conquerors from the Greeks and Romans to the Turks and Arabians. When I walk arou

  • by Andy_R (114137) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:16AM (#42494551) Homepage Journal

    In common with most 'world news' channels that claim to be unbiased, Al Jazeera is actually pretty good, provided you change channels when they report (or omit) events close to home. The same applies to another channel that Americans are likely to dismiss on name alone, Russia Today - they actually provide a solid and unbiased English language news channel when reporting on things that (to them) are both foreign and outside their sphere of influence.

    My advice is, if you want a really independent view of the world, watch BBC World, Al Jazeera and Russia Today, and trust them whenever 2 or 3 out of 3 agree.

    (disclaimer - I've briefly appeared on all three as founder of the Pirate Party UK, but not received payment from any of them. I did accept awful tea and coffee from the BBC and Russia Today â" the Russians hired satellite link facilities from the BBC so it was the same studio with the same BBC drinks â" while Al Jazeera bought me a tea from Starbucks. From an interviewee's point of view, Al Jazeera asked the toughest questions, the BBC seemed to have the lowest budget but were the only ones who offered to cover my travel expenses, and Russia Today were he only ones who expected me to want to pre-approve their questions).

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