Aljazeera: The Rest Of The World Can See It. Why Can't You?

THE Dean of Columbia’s School of Journalism recently bemoaned the lack of public broadcasting in the United States, and went on to argue that America needed its own version of the BBC. I’m sure that he did not intend to upset the venerable PBS when he made those comments, but you get his drift. And there is unintended irony there too; the BBC finds itself under some threat on its home turf, largely at the hands of the inimitable Rupert Murdoch and crew – although the idea that Sky TV can somehow even begin to carry the range and breadth of BBC coverage, would be laughable if it weren’t taken so seriously by a Government that looks to be just as craven towards News Corporation as, well, the last Government.


Is the United States served well by its broadcast media? Well, that’s really a question for Americans. But what struck me when I lived and worked in New York, as Aljazeera’s first United Nations Correspondent was the obvious hunger for international news, and especially for international news that at least tried to be unbiased. That ingredient is sadly in very short supply. In the time since, the situation has if anything got worse. The management of many of the big US broadcasters would prefer to pay unfeasibly large sums to anchors and presenters, even if that means one of the few remaining overseas bureaux have to be cut.

Ironically given all of the controversy surrounding the launch of Aljazeera, and I have already declared my interest here,  this English offspring of the much respected Arabic parentage, has shown how it is possible to report in a relatively unbiased fashion, and from all corners of the globe. But it has been an ongoing battle to achieve carriage in the United States, although you may now be able to view Aljazeera north of the border in Canada, at the last count only the good burghers of Washington DC, Toledo and Burlington, Vermont could get access.

I’m not as plugged in as I used to be with my old company, so I don’t really know what other progress is being made, but for Americans who would like to view Aljazeera, you can get it online here http://english.aljazeera.net/

In London, Aljazeera will shortly be re-launched nationally on ‘free view’, and it is already possible to watch the channel if you have a satellite dish. That said, Aljazeera have never been to hot on advertising their wares, rather hoping that the strength of the product will do the job itself.

In New York, one of our offices was located in the Reuters Building in Times Square, and I remember arguing that the company should rent the large screen for a day or two, and run the best of the Aljazeera coverage with the strap-line “The rest of the World can see us, why can’t you?”

That remains a very good question for many Americans who would like to see Aljazeera for themselves – but for the moment at least it is shortly going to be a whole lot easier for the Brits to watch.

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less