February 11, 2011 / Mediation, Uncategorized
In 1991, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the disturbing psycho thriller, The …
March 24, 2011
Several weeks ago, as the protests in Egypt were boiling over and radical change was about to take place the American media was caught off guard and didn’t have people on the ground covering the story. The omni-presence of 24/7 cable news looked a bit stifled and out of touch with the world outside American borders. Luckily, we own a Roku box, a little black box that works wi-fi magic and transports all sorts of wonderful content to your TV in HD (as Ferris Bueller would say, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”). I went to the Roku Newscaster and began streaming Al Jazeera English news live right to my TV.
The majority of Americans are not so lucky. Unless you live in Burlington, VT or Northeast Ohio, you can only watch Al Jazeera English on the Internet (for more info read “Why can’t we watch Al Jazeera?“).
The democracy of globalization is heartening to most Americans: if we can control it. Whatever your particular news choice may be, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are all American in point of view. For all of its low key stuffiness, PBS is a close cousin, save for the times when they air BBC news, which can bring knowledge of the world from a “foreign” perspective, albeit one that is thought of as quirky, well-meaning and cute, like high tea or Mini Coopers.
The democratic ideal of Al Jazeera English—that an upstart in Qatar can bring high quality, well ranging journalism to the whole world—is too much for most Americans to bear. If we don’t have control of it, quite frankly we feel it is wrong, polluted, slanted or a mouthpiece for terrorists.
So, America censors itself under the veil of capitalism. The American public will not stand for an “other” voice within the media. The public has and will use their market power to scare the cable and satellite companies that control the media in the US to stay away from Al Jazeera English. Otherwise, the cable or satellite companies are afraid that the public will defect in mass to a rival company that does not carry Al Jazeera (and is thus more patriotic, resulting in the only time Americans will ever switch TV providers so that they have less channels). As Dave Marsh, a former Al Jazeera English report wrote in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“If it’s been ‘market forces’ that have kept Al Jazeera/English from an American audience-fears that it would have no audience, or that it would be ‘terror TV’—it is time to readjust to reality. If it’s been political pressure that has kept Al Jazeera/English off America’s cable and satellite servers, it’s time to reject such literal ‘know-nothing-ism.’”
Al Jazeera means “the island” in Arabic, but the only island in America is the media island we have created for ourselves.