A View of Al-Jazeera

A Month On The Air

On August 30, 2013, a new channel came on to the American cable news scene. Over eight months after purchasing Current TV from Al Gore, Al Jazeera America made it's debut.

As would be expected, there was controversy. The fact that Al Gore and Joel Hyatt had refused a bigger offer from right-wing voice Glen Beck only added fuel. There were fears that the channel may have an anti-American, anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, or pro-Islamic bias. I was surprised that my cable company didn't drop the channel. I didn't even expect to be able to see the programming as Current TV wasn't on my tier,

But while channel surfing, I was surprised to find that I could view the programming. I had watched the channel while I was visiting my family, who have DirectTv. I decided to spend part of the day watching some of the channel's programming.

Information and Documentaries

The day I chose to watch, the channel alternated its news programming with other informational programs. I saw a general talk program that focused on; the Pope's comments on social issues, anti-bullying programs, and rape in America. The segments on the Pope and bullying featured a discussion. I think it would have been nice to have a representative from a more progressive Catholic group like Catholics for Choice, but they may not have been available.

Another informational program I saw was a show on financial issues. Refinancing homes and the Affordable Care Act were the main topics there. For a channel that was supposed to have a "leftist bias", the fact they called the Affordable Care Act "ObamaCare" may counter that.

I also managed to see two documentaries. One on the American-backed and trained, death squads of El Salvador and one on the Aral Sea.

The News That Fits?

Oddly enough, the first and last programs I watched were the news casts. The channel seemed to alternate news with the other programs during the day.

The evening news, which you would think would have made the focus the U.S. House vote to fund the Government, but defund the Affordable Care Act, did not. They seemed to make the shooting in Chicago the focal point. They also did reflect a bit of the foreign ownership by doing a piece on Yemen and a food crisis in India. One interesting piece was on how a Native American tribe in Washington is in the process of trying to remove members from its rolls.

I saw no real bias, and the simple set reminded me a bit of a local news channel.

Does Al-Jazeera America have a niche? I think it may, for those who would a news channel along the lines of the BBC.

Comments 7 comments

e-five profile image

e-five 3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois, USA

Long before Al Jazeera had an American outlet, I was communicating with Al Jazeera correspondents in Brazil who made reports that appeared on US media via other outlets (BBC, and others). They're generally good reporters with a solid point of view.

My concern-- as a former US broadcaster-- is WHY there is a market for a network funded and subsidized by the Emir of Qatar. Have the market forces in American media and deregulation of American media made American media outlets irrelevant, untrustworthy, or sub-standard? If that's the case, we have some big problems.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 3 years ago from Camp Hill, PA Author

e-five:

To answer your question from the 2nd Paragraph. They may, one need only look to AM-Radio and it's cable news affiliate


Justsilvie 3 years ago

I do watch it, and had watched in Europe and thought they did a good job but find the American version a bit like others here. More about attention getting headlines than news... I also notice they do not use their logo Al Jazeera America unlike their competitors under the listings it is called Current and makes me wonder why?


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 3 years ago from Camp Hill, PA Author

Just, the channel was previously "Current TV". I'd bet FXX is still listed as the Fox Soccer Channel too!

Give the listings time to catch up.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida

I've been watching a little bit. So far I think they offer a decent option away from the standard news fare of the big networks. Extreme right and left wingers will probably hate any news that isn't biased to their view point. We can hope this channel develops to give us a more international view of the US instead of telling us how exceptional we are.


KT Banks profile image

KT Banks 3 years ago from Texas

I've been waiting for someone to tackle this subject. I haven't watched the channel yet. I don't even know if I have it, however I have seen the commercials for it. Something about it, makes me uncomfortable. Are they going to start out seemingly innocent, and slowly try to turn susceptible people to a non-American view? Who knows. But seeing how a couple of young brothers, such as the ones who bombed the Boston marathon, makes me leery.

And then I think... what IS the American view. We certainly have more than one.


JoanCA profile image

JoanCA 3 years ago

I've only seen about 10 minutes total of the channel but they seemed very objective. It reminded me of the BBC or NPR.

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