Although available in fewer than 3 million American homes, the network's bright orange banner and signature flame-shaped icon have burned themselves into international consciousness during the last week as people bend over their laptops and smart phones to watch Al Jazeera's superlative coverage of the protests first in Tunisia and now in Egypt. ...
Some news outlets have remarked on the role of catalyst that Al Jazeera has played in events, but the network is also doing sentry duty. Watching, it's impossible not to believe that the knowledge of all the cameras, and the world's eyes, have held the police back after early images of beatings and shootings fed anger in Egypt and throughout the world. Likewise, the protesters seem quite aware of the response, both nationally and internationally, to their actions, which may explain why the looting that occurred last week appears to have died down as well. On Tuesday, a giant screen was erected in Tahrir Square; it was showing Al Jazeera.
"Thank you for having this live," one Egyptian actor told an Al Jazeera reporter. "No other networks can do this." [Emphasis added]
The sniping by "some news outlets" is unseemly, just as unseemly as filing this article in "Entertainment". Al Jazeera is doing what the press has traditionally done, what it is supposed to do. Yes, because of its nature and location, it had more resources available when events began unfolding. It was there right from the start. It took days for the rest of the world's press to arrive, and in the mean time, the world's press relied on the young network for visual and verbal reporting.
How it covered those events was the extraordinary part: with images and interviews of not only protesters but also Egyptian leaders. Glib statements from the government were challenged with thoughtful follow-up questions rather than silence as those statements were being duly transcribed. Scenes of the mostly peaceful protests were balanced with scenes of early looting. Nothing was considered too politically incorrect to display or to analyze. And when the Egyptian government closed the Cairo bureau, the reporters were not scared off: they continued to do their job.
Al Jazeera took the rest of the world's press to school. I think we should take the rest of the world's press, especially the US members, behind the woodshed.
Labels: Free Press