By Wand Agency
BY EMOKE BEBIAK
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SAM DONALDSON: “Talking about propaganda for Al Jazeera. Thank you for what you’re doing. People say Al Jazeera has fanned the flames here by bringing the fact that democracy is in existence, that people are being suppressed. That’s what we need. We need more communication in the world.”
As the political climate escalates in Egypt and other Arab countries, Al Jazeera English is being roundly praised for its coverage of the unrest. According to The New York Times – its online live stream has gotten more than 1.6 million U.S. views. Al Jazeera isn’t available on cable TV in most of the United States.
But that might be about to change.
Huffington Post contributor Jeff Jarvis calls for public access to Al Jazeera English, which is currently not carried by most U.S. broadcasters.
“Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one -- not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media -- can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.”
The new-found interest in Al Jazeera’s coverage comes from its reporting on the crisis in Egypt.
The New York Times reports Al Jazeera’s strength is in its constant presence in the Arab world.
“Al Jazeera English ... is indisputably unique. In recent days, the channel ... has gained attention for its up-close, around-the-clock coverage of the protests... While American television networks were scrambling to move reporters and producers into Cairo, the Al Jazeera channels were already there.”
ABC News’s Nick Schifrin explains Al Jazeera’s main appeal is its willingness to voice several viewpoints -- even of those seen as underdogs.
“If in the US Al Jazeera is seen as anti-US, in the Arab world, by the Arab governments, it’s seen as a threat. Because what it does is, one of its mottos is, giving voice to the voiceless. And what it will do is go on to the streets and give voice to the people who haven’t had a voice when only the state governments have provided the voice across the Arab world.”
But the idea of broadcasting Al Jazeera English in the U.S. has met some criticism.
Israel National News considers the political significance of Al Jazeera, saying there’s a reason the network is not widely carried by U.S. broadcasters in the first place -- its history.
“...after the September 11 massacre, Al-Jazeera rebroadcast excerpts from a 1998 statement with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden dozens of times... In the statement, Bin Laden called on Muslims to kill Americans, Christians and Jews.”
Finally - the media blog TV Newser suggests it’ll take more than a few words of praise to convince cable giants to offer Al Jazeera -- there are political, financial and contractual considerations. And in the end - the blog muses...
“The network’s coverage of Egypt has been superb, but like its American counterparts, once the big news event dies down, the quality of its coverage often declines with it. Will the people calling for AJE now be tuning in regularly once Cablevision starts carrying it on channel 180? Don’t bet on it.”
So what do you think? Should U.S. broadcasters carry Al Jazeera English?
Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy.
Transcript by Newsy.