… tomorrow I believe. Yesterday the Media Guardian had a story on the new English edition of the channel.
Originally due on air in late 2005, then spring of this year, then September, the long-delayed 24-hour global channel, providing news with a Middle Eastern perspective will at last start on Wednesday. Ask any of those dashing around its impressive hi-tech newsroom – all open plan studios and glass offices – and they will tell you the delay was all about technical hitches.
The channel is planning to off er high definition pictures and will broadcast from one of four studios throughout the day, following the sun to deliver the news in turn from Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London and Washington. Much of the global news battle is about sheer size and heft, and al-Jazeera International (AJI) will not go short as it goes head to head with CNN and the BBC. It has 18 bureaux around the world, 60 when taken together with the Arabic channels’ offices, and 500 staff of its own.
The other “negative stuff ‘ – the perception that al-Jazeera is a mouthpiece for terrorists, the baseless rumour that it broadcast beheadings – is already dissipating and will drift away as the scales drop from western eyes, Phillips confidently predicts. [Rageh] Omaar is more forthright. “I get very annoyed and frustrated. I have worked a lot with al-Jazeera journalists across the world. Every single assertion is based on hearsay and is totally devoid of fact. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Arabic channel and I think their journalism is excellent,” he says, pointing out that it gets just as much flak from Middle Eastern regimes as the west.
I have in the past said Al-Jaz is like Fox News. On reflection it may be more like CNN; sticking to the values of its main viewer base but taking a degree of flak from all sides.
I don’t feel the urge to do what many people sick of the BBC or CNN do however: hail it as a new media saviour that will ‘tell the truth’. It will simply show a different side to the same story which will probably be as biased as CNN. If there was a way to juxtapose both channels together it would probably be the most balanced.
More media fragmentation / choice… better or worse?
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