Al Jazeera English and the United States: The beginning of a beautiful friendship?

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  1. Jim says:

    Instead of making wrong choices and pursuing wrong approaches that are just goose-chasing and witch-hunting exercises US needs to befriend with those who capture and portray the facts professionally and far effectively. Now more than ever the USA public and its opinions makers need tools that can help them separate the wheat from the chaff not occasionally but on an on-going, round the clock basis.

    An Italian scholar of the Arab media, Donatella della Ratta rightly suggests that the West should seriously consider before blaming or blocking channels like Aljazeera that are in fact educating tools to inform rather than a medium providing an embedded version from a warring side. If the likes of Aljazeera English had wider access in to American homes it would not have taken this long to see the contradictions between the lofty claims made at the Capitol and actual realities faced on ground.

    At a conference, “Creating Connections: New Partnerships for Understanding in the Middle East,” sponsored by the Vermont Peace Academy, Vermont Council on World Affairs and Norwich University, a participant said: “It’s an intellectual tragedy that the United States has cut itself out of Al Jazeera English’s contribution to [informative] conversation. Everything that’s happened to us in Iraq shows that’s very dangerous. The lesson of Iraq is: Ignorance kills.”

    Aljazeera’s Former Washington Bureau chief, Dave Marash offered these comments in an article to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

    Though I recently left Al Jazeera/English “But I still will watch regularly for its excellent coverage of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Without it, I’d be blind to half the planet. Why would anyone want that? Why do we as a nation, as a viewing audience, permit it: television news that institutionalizes willful ignorance of the world?”

    According to author and former executive of USIA, Alvin Snyder, it’s a shame AJE isn’t being given the chance to compete in the US marketplace. Writing several years ago Snyder anticipated that AJ would be giving Fox, CNN and the others “a run for their money” in America, based on the popularity of its website in the US. This would have taken place if it was given a level playing field to perform and demonstrate its merits and demerits.

    This has started to happen. Sadhbh Walshe a film-maker and former staff writer for the CBS drama series The District who’s opinion pieces appear in the Chicago Tribune and Irish Times has this article in The Guardian

    Walshe notes that events in Egypt cause conniption fits and confusion over at Fox studios.

    In the coming days and weeks, commentators, journalism teachers and media professional will increasingly question why the US media space remains in denial of alternate news channels offering a different perspective to American viewers. Will the American viewers realize what they have been missing out in terms of content richness, analytical depth and topics covered by Aljazeera English?

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