Al-Jazeera America enters the media fray

Sept. 16, 2013

Nick Beadleston
nbeadles@uccs.edu

The stench of American media has become almost overwhelming. There is, however, a slight breath of unsullied air wafting in from unlikely origins: the Middle East.

This fresh air has crossed the Atlantic while American media moguls were safely isolated in their ivory towers.

Al-Jazeera America (AJAM) is the newest contender in the nation’s media battle ground. Despite being owned by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Media Network, AJAM fills a gaping hole in American media’s world coverage.

The epochal shift to a 24-hour news cycle occurred during the 80s with the rise of CNN. This should have led to a populace more informed on world events.

Instead, in an unabashed effort to fill airtime, major news networks began to cover minor events and insignificant celebrity affairs.

This introverted approach was a giant step in the wrong direction, and an opportunity to create a culture of well-informed citizens was forfeited.

AJAM joined the American media scene last month, much to the chagrin of xenophobes. Their mission statement includes the phrase “rebalancing global media by respecting the diversity and humanity of the world.”

Famous news names like Joie Chen, Josh Bernstein, Michael Viqueira, Ali Velshi and Soledad O’Brien can now be found on the AJAM roster. Additionally, they also boast an impressive bevy of correspondents from across the country and around the world.

There has always been controversy surrounding Al-Jazeera Media Network’s biases. Qatar’s GDP is almost solely dependent on petroleum exports.

Detractors feel this oil money negatively impacts the direction the network takes. American media, however, has a sordid history of media corruption by wealthy “donors.”

Even Joseph Pulitzer, and his titular journalism award, have infamously been surrounded by corruption and interference to obtain political ends.

The most famous episode, involving news stories practically made up of whole cloth, may have even forced the escalation of the Spanish-American War.

One of the biggest obstacles in sending reporters to cover important issues in far-flung provinces and remote locales is cost. Far more often, media outlets choose to piggy-back coverage or use local, less-trained talent.

This frequently leads to the propagation of incorrect and incomplete stories. AJAM may be backed by Middle Eastern oil subsidiaries, but it has the financial clout to send its correspondents to track down facts firsthand.

AJAM should by no means be heralded as the final word for news. The network should be seen as a new resource to obtain a more holistic understanding of world events.

Any individual who receives information from a single source is doomed to a one-dimensional view. News enthusiasts should view AJAM with renewed hope for the fourth estate.