God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Al Jazeera--Is Clinton Right?

Well, to begin, the title of this made me laugh as I typed it. Clinton--Right? Never!

Anyway..several days ago, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton said something to the effect that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers "real news" -- something she said American media were falling far short of doing.  Source  Of course, this predictably provided fodder for crazy man, proof of what she said, Glen Beck, who bizarrely seems to feel that what he presents is "real news".

Does Clinton have a point and is it legitimate? I think so per the following 3 points.

1. We were in Italy days after the horrific events of 9/11. We have never regretted being there during those days as we became aware of something most Americans never knew. The world was in mourning with us, the support was unprecedented, countries came together and united around the terror of the unbelievable in NYC. We know this because of the broadcasts that were streaming in from China, all of western Europe, Japan, the rest of Asia and old eastern block countries such as Romania and Hungary. There were midnight candle vigils in these countries; store windows were draped in red, white and blue; police stood at attention outside stations where there were podiums holding huge books on pedestals. People of many nationalities wrote their condolences in a variety of languages.  Everywhere we went, empathy and sympathy were shared. Of course there was also much coverage direct from the United States so we were able to see that too.

We were amazed when we returned home to discover that few people here had any idea of how the world stood with us. It was as if our country were isolated in its grief--not understanding that the world was grieving, too...that there was a shared understanding of a profound change that had taken place in world history and events. I understand the raging emotions and stunned paralysis that covered our land but the media should have been more honest and more inclusive. The nation needed this if for no other reason than it was so affirming and uplifting at a very dark time. It was also needed to underscore that we are a community of nations. The people of the United States were robbed of something important. The only source that could have provided this was the media.

2. An American friend of mine who lives in Italy said in a FB comment Al Jazeera is hands down the best news channel in the world, in my opinion....I am on vacation here in the US right now and appalled at what is called news "here." There we have access to British, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Arab, and American news. Here? Oh, don't get me started. What she says is true. When we are in Europe--frequently--we become much more aware of the world and what is happening in it. Often we are even more informed about what is happening in the United States as it is being reported as in-depth news not 3 minute blips between commercials and trivia about Charlie Sheen's goddesses, Sarah Palin's latest mouthing and American Idol.

3. I began watching Al Jehezzera on my iPad recently when I discovered that it provides fairly straight forward brief narrative reporting to introduce video of what is happening wherever. I do still primarily watch MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC but am becoming more disillusioned. So much of the airwaves are taken up with pundits sharing purported wisdom with each other, outrage at other on-air personalities, opinions replacing hard news, reporting on wayward celebrities, politicians and other high profile misfits and the occasional fluff piece and human interest story (I like the latter.) The loss is news about the world in general. We get stories about Berlusconi and his Ruby and other scintillating news but we get little hard news. Of course, major events such as current uprisings in the Middle East and Africa and the numbing earthquake in Japan are heavily covered with video and reporting, particularly at the beginning when there is the horror of the visual. But, comprehensive coverage of the world just doesn't happen. It used to be that CNN more-or-less served this purpose but no longer.

I encourage checking out the link to Al-Jazeera above to get a feel for what I am saying. Go through each of the continents and world areas in the menu bar to see what is there. Check the "watch live" option to see some of the coverage. It is different from ours.

Again for the record, I repeat that my major source is US media but sometimes I do check out the BBC, CNN International and Al-Jazeera along with other options to complete my understanding of what is happening. I find that I am more informed and cognizant of the world outside our borders.


Judith of Umbria said...

Now I don't have to say it, but I may anyway just because it irritates me so to hear people being so US-centric when they don't have a clue about the rest of the world.

jmisgro said...

I totally agree with you. We also watch Russia Today news channel, which is really good. BBC World News is not bad.

sandrac said...

Very interesting post, Jane! I think much of the problem stems from media ownership which ultimately drives what makes the front pages of most newspaper and the top stories in a newscast.

There was once a wide range of media owners in North America (okay, mostly the US) because of fairly tight regulation of media ownership. I believe control/ownership is now concentrated in about a half-dozen enormous conglomerates which also own entertainment companies and a host of other businesses. That has to have a huge impact on what "news" is emphasized (promoting, say, a new movie or its star which a sister company within the same conglomerate is releasing.)

Jane said...
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Jane said...

Sandra, I think you are right to a big extent but I also think that we in the US (don't know about Canada)are very myopic about the world and are very egocentric as a nation. Maybe a more rationale, open media would help to mitigate this somewhat. The world around us is growing up while we stagnate. I'm thinking of the ophthalmologist I was at yesterday. The assistant was explaining to me all the up-to-date equipment they have which is from Germany. The techniques Casey's orthodontist uses come from Italy. And yet, friends here think we are going to third world countries when we go to Europe. Myopic? yes. Sad? Bigger yes.

Martha said...

So agree with you. When we were vacationing we found US news to be lacking also and missed BBC World. But when we lived near DC we were able to watch both French and Italian (and many others)news on an international TV station based in VA. Don't know if the station is still around or not.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying that Clinton was right!

Few Americans ever want to hear about things happening beyond their front step and the so-called newscasters are happy to feed them what they want. It is a constant source of frustration to us that we are able to get so little Candian content when we're in the US yet we hear so much of what is happening south of the border. Thank goodness for the internet . . .

jmisgro said...

When we moved to Italy in 2009, one of my mom's friends was worried about us because we were moving to a "third world country".
I was shocked to hear that.
I guess that person never heard of the Roman Empire!
Years ago when we had a huge satellite dish we used to watch all kinds of news and sports from Canada because the coverage was better, especially the Olympics.