Living out here in deepest Oregon, I’m rediscovering just how important a source of international news is is the Al Jazeera English news channel. AJE has done first rate reporting and analysis on President Trump’s ordered killing of Iran’s Soleimani. Without easy access to BBC or Channel 4 News and with a CNN domestic service that features talking heads over frontline reporting, AJE stands out. What puzzles me is how CNN domestic and its proclivity for proclaiming every minuscule news development as “ Breaking News” neglects its world-wide news gathering teams that contribute impressively to the international service that I used to watch regularly in London. I think that CNN’s obsession with 24/7 coverage of the Trump presidency is contributing mightily to the dumbing down of Americans that results in no real understanding of international crises like the one we now face after Trump’s strike against Iran. Unlike the BBC World Service or AJE, CNN US never pauses between handoffs from an Anderson Cooper to a Chris Cuomo to include a newscast of record that features frontline international reporting from its excellent corps of correspondents. Instead it showcases indulgent chitchat between the anchors and on to the next hyped aspect of the Trump impeachment story. The format -CNN’s mastermind Jeff Zucker would argue – is hugely successful judging by ratings and ad revenue. But – and this is something you’ll never hear on Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources “ ubiquitous media critiques- CNN ought to be called out more frequently for this absence of news reporting as opposed to endless bloviating, too often intermixing legitimate CNN journalists with paid political partisan consultants.
AJE has also timed well its new production and studio look that makes its newscasts and newshours more accessible and less impersonal.
AJE is also making good use of its trenchant foreign affairs analyst Marwan Bishara.
Full disclosure: I spent several years working and consulting for AJE.