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Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer

Posted: March 14, 2011 10:26 AM

Why Aren't You Watching Al Jazeera?


Al Jazeera news people are getting killed to bring us the story, and then their company is getting censored in America -- a double tragedy.

If you care about anything more on the news than celebrity trivia join me in saying: Thank God For Al Jazeera!

And while we're at it why the are Comcast and other cable companies keeping the best TV news media company in the world today -- with the possible exception of the BBC -- out of America? (I'm talking about Al Jazeera in their English language coverage. I'm not an Arabic speaker so can't judge their Arabic coverage.)

What is the cable companies' problem... insane Republican xenophobes who want to keep "Arabs" out ... the "Israel Lobby"... what?

Al Jazeera is the one and only source to watch in order to understand the biggest unfolding news story since the collapse of the USSR. What is happening in the Arab world isn't just a big story for the Middle East. This is our future too.

And Al Jazeera pays the price as noted on their website.

An Al Jazeera cameraman has been killed in what appears to have been an ambush near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.


Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to Benghazi from a nearby town after filing a report from an opposition protest when unknown fighters opened fire on a car he and his colleagues were travelling in.

Two people including Al Jaber were shot. Al Jaber was rushed to hospital, but did not survive.

Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley, reporting from Benghazi, said Al Jaber was hit by three shots and was wounded through the heart.

"This is an extension of the campaign against Al Jazeera, and Al Jazeera Arabic particularly - because everyone here watch Al Jazeera Arabic. Their work has been heroic, and it has been a great shock to lose a colleague."

Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of Al Jazeera, said the network "will not remain silent."

Al Jazeera is reporting with a polite open-minded grace and fairness missing from American TV, especially cable news. For one thing Al Jazeera interviews are long, not impatient and trivial the way American media interviews are. For another thing Al Jazeera is filled with... actual journalists, even on camera, not just pretty faces or "personalities."

And it isn't just their reporting on the Middle East that is of superior value. All their international coverage is at or above the standard of the BBC. For instance the Al Jazeera coverage of the Tsunami in Japan was extensive, informed by local commentary and did not cut away to fill in viewers on minor stories that in the context of tragedy are plain tasteless.

I've been watching Al Jazeera online for several months now more or less 24/7 and I am in awe of how far ahead on so many stories they are. For instance I've seen them cut live to President Obama's press briefings and the press conferences of other world leaders and/or American political figures when the American press doesn't even cover the story live anywhere but on C-Span.

We Americans are so isolated from the larger world that we will always be a dollar short and a day late unless we find alternatives to our "media." Al Jazeera is that alternative. It's time America's cable companies are deluged by Americans asking that Al Jazeera become part of a standard cable package everywhere. For now you may watch online click here

If freedom and democracy comes to countries ranging from Egypt to Libya future historians will note that the freedom of information provided by Al Jazeera (at great cost) played a huge role, a bigger role than the increasingly irrelevant US media that is too busy worrying about Charlie Sheen to notice that the planet is changing.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book is Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

 
 
 

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