Wrong On English Al Jazeera

Wrong On English Al Jazeera

I found that Stewart Ain’s “report” on Al Jazeera was fundamentally wrong (“Concern Over Al Jazeera English Network Here”). I realize he checked with his sources (CAMERA, etc.), but I must ask, has he watched their coverage?

My husband and I have watched them online for many months. Their coverage of the Mideast (Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, etc.) has been far more informed, intelligent and nuanced than that of American news organizations. And infinitely more complete — instead of repeated showing of the same stock photos, their exceptionally talented reporters are out on the streets trying to talk to officials, rebels and average citizens in a meaningful and straightforward manner. In a few instances, in fact, the corresponding American reports came from several cities away, or even several countries away, from very nice hotels.

We expected vicious anti-Israel sentiment and instead found nuanced, thoughtful, complex discussions on problems in Israel and between Israel and its neighbors. Instead of jumping to turn off the programs, we’ve sat back to listen.

As far as the lack of discussion of the sexual assault on an American reporter [Lara Logan] — first, it was mentioned.

Second, what American newsgathering institution has discussed the many Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned, sexually and generally assaulted, and potentially killed in Syria, Libya and Egypt, where they risked their lives to criticize brutal terrorist and undemocratic regimes? And they keep working. Does it only count if it is a white American woman?

And finally, and most importantly, while it is a tragedy for her (and for each of them), Al Jazeera is reporting on major conflicts in countries where the government does not want information to get out. There is a certain level of appropriateness in just getting on with the job — incontrovertibly showing what actually happens, getting the story out. That’s what journalism is supposed to be about. Not repeating what a monitor says.

Last week a quarter of a million Israelis protested against Netanyahu’s government. Neither Ain nor The Jewish Week thought it worthy of coverage. Al Jazeera provided the most in-depth and balanced coverage of these protests that I saw on a TV program.

Editor’s Note: Al Jazeera officials told The Jewish Week they had not covered the Lara Logan assault. And The Jewish Week in fact covered last week’s Israeli protest: the story was previewed with a photograph on page 1 (“In Land Of Milk And Honey, No Money For Cottage Cheese”) and carried inside on page 20.

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