CHICAGO, January 4, 2013— Al-Jazeera (Al Jazeera America) bought Current TV for 500 million dollars in late December. Current TV was the pathetic attempt by Al Gore and his billionaire backers to legitimize gasbaggery as journalism. Gore, like most of his progressive ilk, failed to realize that journalism is a business, not a noble cause or a movement.
In order to be successful in the racket you need to do three things; provide compelling content people can use and want, develop and keep viewers, and sell advertising to pay the bills and earn a profit.
Providing the best version of the truth through ruthless fact checking and double-checking is immaterial. Objectivity and ethics are antipodal to modern journalism. Cost cutting created the lazy access copy and paste reportage the media calls journalism.
Chicago political pundit Dan Proft noted, “Current TV just got slightly more pro-American”. Other pundits are claiming the entity is “Islamist”, liberal, progressive, biased, slanted, and a propaganda tool. If any or all of it is true they will fit right in the American media news business.
Al-Jazeera English has been the dartboard and punching bag of so-called “freedom loving” conservatives and media outlets, also known as the competition, for their coverage of Middle Eastern affairs and for allowing interviews, opinions and editorials by alleged and real terrorist groups. They have been accused of providing biased coverage.
Fancy that, all the pots calling the kettle black.
If there is to be biased, cowardly, fearful, lazy access, copy and paste propaganda and reportage, Gaia fearing American media was going to profit from it, not some ‘furners.’
With its purchase of Current TV and access to major cable and satellite providers Al-Jazeera America is now one of the boys. They joined the club and are a force to be reckoned with. Unlike major news outlets in the American Market, Al-Jazeera provides news coverage instead of mindless entertainment and comedy.
You will not see stand-up comedians like Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, or Barbara Walters. There will be no exploding head blow-dried bloviators, cosmetic clad conspiracy theorists, botoxed blondes, or designer tin foil suited hunks. Hopefully, that is.
Whatever your opinion of Al-Jazeera, their entry to major media markets is a positive. Remember, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It guarantees freedom of information and ideas along with the freedom to disseminate information and ideas.
Only died in the wool ideological know-nothings would try to restrict the flow of ideas and information. They are the people who “cry freedom” by denying it to others. If blogs like Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and Politico can be considered legitimate “journalism” anything goes.
The competition is actually jealous. On several occasions Al-Jazeera scooped the competition, forcing them to buy content, sometimes at a very high price. Al-Jazeera was first on the ground in many war torn areas, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They were first to provide live coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings, garnering praise from the American State Department which was blindsided by the eruptions.
Al-Jazeera, due to their influence in the Middle East and Mediterranean were able to anticipate news and not only get there first, but also arrive ahead of time. Their critics are not only American. Arab states, Muslim religious leaders, and other Muslim countries criticize them for their coverage and opinion pieces, especially in the area of human rights.
Their opinion or editorial programming demonstrates they are not afraid to equally present both sides of an issue. Al Jazeera’s motto is “The opinion and the other opinion”.
America should welcome Al-Jazeera with open arms and celebrate their purchase of Current TV. It is hard evidence that we practice what we preach, freedom. If people do not like the content or the slanted coverage there is a solution. Hit the remote.
Al-Jazeera is no better or worse than what passes for American journalism, media news, and propaganda. There is no excellence in broadcasting or journalism in America. Journalism is a miasma of mediocrity.
It is hoped Al Jazeera will not assimilate and give public the dancing bears and prancing poodles that American news provides. Hopefully they will not generate cut and paste lazy access journalism as practiced by American reporters.
Competition is good. It fosters change for the better. It enables more freedom and flow of ideas, the whole basis of the First Amendment. Competition makes people work harder to improve. You have a choice. See what your competitors do best and emulate or innovate. Or, you can remain in a state of mediocrity, where American journalism is today.
In the vapid ideological media world new voices should be welcomed. There are more than just two points of view, slants, bias, or whatever you want to call journalism. The current right and left wingnuts of the media have too much power to shape opinion, decide what is newsworthy, and drive the public’s way of thinking. Intelligent people think critically. They do not follow the pack or herd. Critical thinking, intelligence, judgment, and common sense are sorely lacking in journalism and media news.
So, roll out the red carpet and welcome Al Jazeera America to the fold. Let us pray they will not turn into the carnival barkers and circus clowns that provide Americans their daily pabulum.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur.
He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association, Chicago Headline Club, and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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