Now to be honest, that has made my job as a news person hard to do at times. I can’t see what’s going on in real time all that often. If a hearing or a news conference that I can’t be present at is being broadcast live, I still can’t get it.
And we’re not even going to talk about the impact not having cable has had on my Significant Other the sportswriter … not being able to channel-surf every sports network on cable is giving him hives.
But while the thought of having to give Comcast my hard-earned coin doesn’t make me too happy, I’ve spent the last few days at my parent’s house discovering a reason why I’m going to have to change my mind about that.
That reason? Al Jazeera America.
Al Jazeera America is the new, American version of the best cable news network American cable systems didn’t want you to see. It’s a network owned by the Emir of Qatar, which means that as long as oil and natural gas continue to flow through that country, the money will continue to flow to the network.
Which is why Al Jazeera tends to do things that tick off American officials … like report all sides of a story with no fear of reprisal from advertisers.
In fact, at the beginning of the Gulf War, Al Jazeera wasn’t always allowed to cover Allied news conferences because of its willingness to broadcast Osama Bin Laden’s videos in addition to the Allied view of things. Network journalists were also questioned and branded by some as al-Qaida collaborators.
The Emir made former Vice President Al Gore, the owner of Current TV, an offer he couldn’t refuse and bought the network earlier this year. With it, he bought all of the must-carry space that came with it.
(Hopefully it gave the former VP the money he needed to pay off Keith Olbermann – Current’s lone big-ticket anchor. Personally, I think Current’s sale was a direct result of the lawsuit that followed Olbermann’s departure….)
The network premiered this week and the show that I caught is called “Consider This”. It discussed solitary confinement and its mental impact, as well as attacks on freedom of the press. Other shows talked about spending in Haiti and other topics you’re not going to get on your standard American television news. I like it already.
You see, I’ve always believed that because of the fear of advertiser reprisals, American news networks run scared when it comes to certain topics.
When that fear is removed, we get the real scoop about what’s being done in our names as Americans. That’s why networks like the BBC and Al Jazeera America are so valuable.
Hopefully, everyone gives this new network a chance. Personally, I can’t wait for it to get a look at the School District of Philadelphia mess….