Significant Crossings of the Line for the Post-Bush Era

When official news channels lose credibility, the desire spreads to seek a believable alternative yonside the official line. Too often this arrives designed to earn its own keep and better.

And the intertwining of means and purposes in this highly commercial cut of history makes it necessary to track the new information source, and exercise our own judgment that on so many crucial occasions has been so badly abused. It might be considered as one of the many invoices being presented to the Western world for having so long taken seriously the unspeakable rationings of the Bush regime.

To meet just such challenges on the most modest non-commercial basis – COMER has been dedicated for some decades. We cherish reminding the world of the long line of distinguished economists whose names have long been forgotten on the official academic registers, but who have become timely because of these new developments.

From The New York Times (13/11, "A New Al Jazeera With a Global Focus" by Hassan M. Fattah) we have the following: "Dubai – Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel that began a decade ago as an upstart, has become a thorn in the side of every dictator in the region as well as of the Bush administration.

"Critics call it radical. Its admirers lionize it. And the network continues to battle accusations that it is sympathetic to Al Quaeda – and its offices have been shut in almost every major Arab country at some point, and bombed by American aircraft in two wars.

"Now, Al Jazeera’s journalists are working to transform the channel into a conglomerate with global reach.

"By the end of the year Al Jazeera will have new channels in Arabic and English, a pan-Arabic newspaper, Web sites and blogs, sports and children’s outlets, and even a channel modeled after C-Span.

"The network (which turned 10 on Nov. 11) is looking to extend its sphere of influence beyond the Arab world. On Wednesday it will start the English-language Al Jazeera International, which will go on the air from Asia to the US.

"The channel will broadcast from network hubs in Qatar, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, offering news, talk and documentaries that its managing director, Nigel Parsons, said would have a decidedly different tone than on established Western channels.

"In effect Al Jazeera International intends to become for the developing world what Al Jazeera became to the Arab world: a champion of forgotten causes, a news organization willing to take the contrarian view and to risk being controversial.

"‘We want to cover the untold stories’ Mr. Parsons said by telephone from Qatar. ‘We would be anchored in the Middle East, but we intend to cover the developing world fully and to risk being controversial. We will use Asian reporters to cover Asia and Africans to talk about Africa, rather than have instant experts land there and tell us the story.’

"The channel has signed prominent journalists, including David Frost, the former BBC correspondent, Rageh Omar, and a onetime CNN anchor, Riz Khan, as well as numbers of producers and reporters from Western networks with a decidedly international look. We will show the ugly side of conflict. ‘War has been too sanitized in the media.’

"Mr. Parsons and others have stressed that viewers should not expect to see the Al Jazeera that the Arab world watches daily. Al Jazeera International has separate crews and editors working completely independent of the original network.

"Al Jazeera’s international offshoot is not under pressure to turn a profit anytime soon, in part because of its endowment from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who has underscored his longtime commitment to Al Jazeera despite pressure from many governments.

"The Arab channel, largely backed out of the advertising market by Saudi businesses, who account for most ads in the region, has yet to turn a profit. Nor is Mr. Parsons necessarily focused on reaching American viewers. Mr. Parsons said, ‘This is a world increasingly skeptical of American intentions and frustrated with American foreign policy.’

– from Economic Reform, December 2006