viernes, marzo 18, 2011

Al Jazeera, real journalism

Al Jazeera Shows the Way

By Danny Schechter
March 17, 2011

Ediitor’s Note: The U.S. political/media Establishment has long treated Al Jazeera as an American enemy in the global “information war.” During George W. Bush’s presidency, U.S. forces shot and jailed Al Jazeera correspondents as part of Bush’s brutal campaign to force "free-market democracy” on the Middle East.

But it appears Al Jazeera is emerging victorious from this conflict, with far greater credibility among well-informed people than U.S. propaganda outlets, including much of the timid U.S. news media. And, Al Jazeera is now on the front lines of spreading real democracy in the Middle East.


Started in 1996 out of a failed BBC experiment, it has grown into a multi-channel mega network with documentary and sports outlets and news channels in Arabic, English, Turkish, Balkan languages and Swahili, so far.

It has a study center, a training center and offers a range of social media platforms. Its Web sites are big and getting bigger.

--Al Jazeera Network has more than 65 bureaus across the globe – the majority rooted in the global South.

--Al Jazeera Network has more than 3,000 staff members across the world, including more than 400 journalists from more than 60 countries.

--Al Jazeera English has more than 1,000 highly experienced staff from more than 50 nationalities, making AJE’s newsroom among the most diverse in the world.

I was told that a recent commentary of mine about Bernie Madoff on drew a whopping 238,000 page views worldwide.

One of the panels here was focused on discussing how what was once called the “CNN effect” has been displaced by the “Al Jazeera effect.” The former was about a cable network that won influence with the men at the top; the latter is about winning credibility and respect from people at the bottom.

I heard a term on the lips of an Al Jazeera executive that I never heard uttered by any American media exec in my years of media watching and working at ABC, CNN and CNBC, among others. The term is “oppression” — as in being a voice for the voiceless, standing up for oppressed people.

Al Jazeera explicitly links its media efforts to the fight for democracy and free speech.

CNN, these days, like Fox and MSNBC, is more about supercharged domestic partisan opinion. Al Jazeera is more about universal human rights, facts and journalism, although when it does offer opinions it always offers more than one.

Its slogan has always been, “the opinion and the other opinion.”

Al Jazeera credits its success to being a trusted and vital source of information. It does real reporting and its own investigations.

Their multi-ethnic army of global correspondents comes from the world’s leading media outlets while it also taps diverse freelancers. It can compete with and often out-scoop BBC and CNN because top staffers once worked for those outlets and know how to do it.

And it has no sacred cows. Its “Palestinian Papers” exposed the Palestinian Authority’s complicity with Israel in negotiations. The PA is now among the channel’s detractors even as the audience in the region was glued to its embarrassing findings.

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