February 9, 2009

Where’s the real International News? Like Paris Hilton updates!

Josh Rushing, former US Marine Captain and current Al-Jazeera English correspondent visited CU last week. His very unique experiences in the Middle East, as an American man of war and now as an olive-branch carrying information expert, were riveting. Thanks to Model UN and Cultural Events Board for bringing him.

But one thing that struck me about his visit was his frustration that, at his Denver hotel, minutes away from an international airport, he was unable to get CNNinternational, BBCworld, or Aljazeera English on his hotel television–only American news networks. While I was staying in Rome a couple of weeks ago, I saw these international channels for the first time and realized that by being locked to nearly any American news source, I missed out on the entire world. Bias is one thing we are all familiar with, but proper news style is something of which we might be simply oblivious.

Lucky for us, the internet provides us with independent news sources at the click of a button–we just have to seek them. Try livestation.com, a free service that allows you to watch real time news from France, Africa, the Arab World, and many more. Or watch Mosaic, LinkTV’s Middle Eastern broadcast compilation from networks across the region. There’s always youtube, where you can find Al-Jazeera English’s updates.

If these are simply better news sources, why doesn’t American media catch on or try to compete with good quality? Josh Rushing reminded me that CNN, Fox News, etc., only have a responsibility to their investors, so whatever will bring viewership is news. Of course. When Larry King’s record viewership was during a Paris Hilton interview, no wonder the stories we see are generally nonsense. When Fox News covered Anna Nicole Smith’s death, they received three times the viewers that Anderson Cooper received when he had a rare interview with Condoleeza Rice.

Sure, we have a responsibility to seek out fair, independent news sources for ourselves, but I think average Americans should be more exposed to good news if they are paying for cable news networks. How do we change this? Well, it’s always grassroots isn’t it?

I e-mailed comcast last night and asked them to add Aljazeera, BBCWorld, and CNN International immediately. They responded—it’s a work in progress, my friends.

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Caroline Clark  |  Contribution: 510