This week, as events unfolded in Libya I started to go to the website of Al Jazeera to see if the news was presented differently. I have now spent the rest of the week checking the site each day and I am impressed by the balance and quality of the content and reporting. Al Jazeera has invested heavily in its resources and the quality of the journalists. It is clear that they made a fairly sensible decision early on not to employ any executives from Fox News. Up until now I always used to check the BBC News site but I have made the decision to change. What Al Jazeera has achieved (an I suspect that it may have been a deliberate decision) is to show the bias in Western news sources. Even with the BBC you can see a certain subtle bias, for example it is rare to ever see content that openly criticises, questions or condemns western global policies. I don’t even want to waste my breath commenting on the quality of reporting from CNN, Sky & Fox. Which does lead to an article I read about Al Jazeera and “The land of the Free”. AJE (Al Jazeera English) has been running a campaign for Americans to put pressure on their cable providers to start showing AJE. In the last few months 70,000 emails have been sent and slowly AJE content or channels have started to be aired. I completely understand why the American power base wants to keep AJE out of the “Land of the Free” and have tried to do so by insinuating that it is a propaganda channel for Middle Eastern terrorism. The threat to both the political and to the entrenched media interests in the US is that if AJE becomes widely aired people may become aware of the pure propaganda that they are being fed 24/7 and become slightly disillusioned. If you look at the relevant page on their website there is a feed of comments made by people and I found the following to be particularly illuminating;
“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news”.
– US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton