Friday, March 18, 2011

Al Jazeera Shows the Way

By Danny Schechter, Consortium News, March 17, 2011

Ediitor’s Note: The U.S. political/media Establishment has long treated Al Jazeera as an American enemy in the global “information war.” During George W. Bush’s presidency, U.S. forces shot and jailed Al Jazeera correspondents as part of Bush’s brutal campaign to force “free-market democracy” on the Middle East.
But it appears Al Jazeera is emerging victorious from this conflict, with far greater credibility among well-informed people than U.S. propaganda outlets, including much of the timid U.S. news media. And, Al Jazeera is now on the front lines of spreading real democracy in the Middle East.

In this guest essay, Danny Schechter describes an Al Jazeera forum on these topics that he attended at the network’s base in Doha, Qatar:

When I arrived in the capital of Qatar, as one of the guest participants in the 6th annual Al Jazeera Forum focused on the Arab world in transition, it was clear the mood had changed.

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In years past, the humiliation and oppression of the region was driving the discourse, but this year, events had taken a positive turn with popular youth revolutions catapulting the Al Jazeera TV networks into the global spotlight with governments falling and a new future emerging.

A revolt in Libya was topping the news, being described as civil war — whether it is or isn’t — with Western intervention in the form of a no-fly zone on the horizon to either protect that country’s people from a mad dictator, or in Col. Gaddafi’s view, use humanitarianism as a cover for an armed effort by foreign interests to seize the country’s oil wealth.

Just as the Forum began, we learned that an Al Jazeera Cameraman, Hassan Al Jaber, who I  met at an earlier Forum was killed in Libya, likely a targeted killing because the Al Jazeera people I met believe Gaddafi put money on their heads.

Soon, the story we came to discuss also lost its standing at the top of the media agenda. The disaster in the East had displaced the crisis in the Middle East.

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