Today was the launch of Al Jazeera America, replacing Current TV on cable channels, and I've only been watching for an hour or so, but I'm impressed.
I came in on the tail end of a discussion on global warming. A balanced discussion, that looked at the problem from several viewpoints. Intelligent commentary that didn't talk down to the viewer. One person's recommendation at the end of the report contained the advice (paraphrasing), "don't build new cities near the current sea level."
More under the fold...
A program called Fault Lines came on.
"2012 was a good year for Walmart, but a bad year for Bangladesh." From an Al-Jazeera America report about the fire that killed 112 and injured scores of others at a factory that makes clothes for Walmart, Sears, and other global retailers… and five months before a collapse in a similar garment factory killed over a thousand.
A nicely researched piece about supply chains leading from the US to Bangladesh. Garments are 80% of Bangladesh's economy. The country has the lowest minimum wage in the world: 18¢.
"If Walmart doesn't know where it's goods come from, it's because they choose not to know". Walmart and the Gap spin the connection to assuage customers, but the truth is more painful.
Then came the News. The top story was on the turmoil in Egypt. A continuing story, that's been very important since the military removed the elected president. CNN refused to interrupt their coverage of the Zimmerman trial to cover the riots. Al Jazeera had a good, thoughtful, report, with a clear assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood vs. the military. America's aid was mentioned, but the view was from the Egyptian perspective. No mention of other countries, such as Israel.
Then a report about the California wildfires. A broad coverage of the whole situation, including mention of fires in Alaska. A fairly short report, but well done.
A report on California force-feeding prisoners on a hunger strike was led off by a short report on a school shooting that was long on facts with no editorializing.
A promo for Real Money seemed okay, if a bit on the "stand up and be excited" school of journalism. I dunno. I'm old school: News anchors sit behind a desk. Ah well, at least we know they wear pants.
A report on Obama's vacation pointed out that most politicians take much of August off... but workers on the low end of the pay scale get none.
I'll stop taking notes and post this now.
The commercials are annoying (but short), and the news crawlis are only only okay (but the sub-heads above the crawl are informative). Still, it's not headline news, dominated by sound-bites. In the few stories I've seen, I didn't detect any of the anti-Israel bias that sometimes manifests itself in other Al Jazeera reports. It looks as advertised: "unbiased, fact-based, in-depth stories of U.S. and international news".
Al-Jazeera America is head-over-heals better than CNN or any of the network stations, and even better than "60 MInutes" or MSNBC. Brown people on tv! Intelligent commentary from intelligent commentators! A very good beginning.
Al Gore is right again.