Sunday, March 06, 2016

239.4 - RIP: al-Jazeera America

RIP: al-Jazeera America

We have an RIP this week, but it's not for a person. It's for an organization.

After less than three years, al-Jazeera America, weighed down both by knee-jerk Islamophobia among viewers and advertisers and by cable corporations that pushed it into higher, more costly price tiers while littering their basic levels with shopping channels and a tsunami of scripted "reality" shows, has given up the ghost. It's website will no longer be updated and its cable TV operations will be shut down next month.

What most Americans didn't and still don't know and never had the chance to find out is that al-Jazeera is an internationally-respected news organization whose American channel won two Peabody Awards in its first year of operation. Despite being owned by the government of Qatar, its international coverage was as fair and as broad as could be found at, for example, the BBC and far superior to that of American commercial networks.

And if it brought an Arab slant on the world, in the same way that the BBC or the French Press Agency bring a European one, well, that was a feature, not a bug.

Al-Jazeera itself is still in operation, it's website featuring news reports and streaming video. But al-Jazeera America, very soon, will not be.

So RIP, al-Jazeera America.

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