Should Americans Be Demanding Al Jazeera English?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
This week, Al Jazeera English has launched a major advertising campaign branded, "Demand Al Jazeera in the USA," to stir public demand for access to the cable news channel. What do you think, should Al Jazeera English be given wide prominence on cable carriers?
Yesterday, KPCV Southern California Public Radio featured a discussion of the question. Included were Geneva Overholser, director of the journalism program at USC. Also interviewed was my brother Erik Nisbet, a professor of communication at The Ohio State University and a leading expert on Arab media and politics.
Last week, Erik contributed a guest post here at AoE discussing the likely influence of Al Jazeera on pan-Arab identity and the protests in Egypt.
Below is a description of the program and you can listen to the audio here.
As news events have unfolded in Egypt, major U.S. cable networks have repeatedly started their breaking news coverage with the words "Al Jazeera reports." Based in Doha, Qatar, the international news network has been broadcasting developments in Egypt around the clock – getting their reporters and cameras into Cairo’s Tahrir Square faster than many outlets. But other than a few pockets across the U.S., including Ohio, Vermont, and Washington D.C., American cable carriers don't offer viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera on TV. Now, Al Jazeera English has launched the "Demand Al Jazeera in the USA" campaign. Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera Network, said in a statement, “The past month has shown us something that America can no longer ignore: millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region, and too many are deprived of that opportunity." Do you agree? Should more U.S. cable networks carry Al Jazeera English? Why or why not?
Geneva Overholser, director, USC School of Journalism
Erik Nisbet, Professor of Communication, Ohio State University
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