Friday, February 13, 2009

News, International Media, and a 180 Degree Perspective

I've become hooked on Al Jazeera International. Broadcast largely by UK newscasters with interviews and on-site reporting taking place all over the world, shows ranging from NewsHour to Music of Resistance to People & Power, it's hard not to enjoy it.

However the thing I find most interesting is trying to explain to people I meet here why it is so different from news broadcast in the United States. Trying to explain Fox News to a Middle Easterner is actually rather difficult. It's not because they aren't intelligent or can't understand (obviously), it is trying to explain the fact that Americans are completely ignorant of most of the news being broadcast on channels like Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Abu Dhabi News, etc. That it's very likely that hardly anyone in the US heard about the Zimbabwean elections the other day, or knows the difference between Likud and Yisrael Beitanu or so on seems unlikely at best. How could a nation full of educated people whose media and culture has infiltrated the entire planet not hear about what is happening in the daily lives of people in other parts of the world?

Good question.

It becomes a precarious balance - explaining what you see every day in all its racist ignorance and governmental/corporate power-grabbing evil, and trying not to demonize the people from your country who just don't know any better. It's really hard to make excuses for us, because there aren't any good excuses. There are no good reasons. So then what do you say? We're just lazy and don't want to look for alternative news sources? We trust our government? We're more concernced with our own goings-on to worry about what happens to other people? We believe what we're told because our Good Ol' Boys wouldn't lie to us? That we don't care what happens to you other people because you are the Other, that you have different ideals, that you don't believe in our God, that you hate our freedom, that you hate democracy?

Like I said, there are no good excuses. We need to stop pardoning ourselves and ask someone else to do it, and even if they don't, then we need to change. Pretending to absolute moral authority will only serve to isolate us more from the rest of the world, and it certainly will not further causes of justice, freedom, or democracy, no matter what the pundits tell us.

Al Jazeera English

1 comment:

JonSayer said...

I just want to point out that I know the difference between Likud (the main right-wing party) and Yisrael Beitanu (the racist party of Lieberman). Then again, I listen to BBC international.