The New Age of Journalism

The media has ADD.

One minute the hot story is a citizen revolt in Egypt and the next is a tsunami in Japan.

How much time was dedicated to the disaster in Haiti before mainstream media shifted its focus to yet another story? Meanwhile, the mainstream media has forgotten about Haiti, even though that country continues to suffer from the earthquake’s aftermath.

Interns from across the city came to listen to IPS Fellow Phyllis Bennis and Al Jazeera correspondent Sebastian Walker. Photo by Messay Shoakena.

Interns from across the city came to listen to IPS Fellow Phyllis Bennis and Al Jazeera correspondent Sebastian Walker. Photo by Messay Shoakena.

Al Jazeera, however hasn’t abandoned Haiti. Sebastian Walker, an Al Jazeera English correspondent, was on the ground 24 hours after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the country. He has remained there for over a year to document the progress of the relief effort, making Al Jazeera English the only international TV network to maintain a permanent presence in Port-au-Prince.

National and international reports are disseminated every hour of the year, yet we’re exposed to the same stories hour after hour, day after day for all of one week and then it’s on to the next cycle. If news is aired 24 hours a day why is it that frequently only one story gets so much attention at any given time?

Clearly, there’s room to provide more in-depth reporting regarding pertinent international issues. While many mainstream media sources skimp on important international issues, Al Jazeera places more emphasis on the stories that deserve attention. This one-of a- kind news outlet is dedicated to focusing greater efforts to report real international issues from many angles and questioning why decisions are made.

Al Jazeera English was the first 24-hour English-language news and current affairs TV channel produced in the Middle East. Its programming includes news and analysis, documentaries, business, technology and sports.

At a recent event featuring Walker, Rethink Press and IPS’ New Internationalism Project were able to attract many student interns. There was standing room only in Busboys & Poets’ Langston Room as the speakers attempted to persuade this group of young adults to participate in a campus call-in action to spread the word about the greatness that is Al Jazeera English.

On June 27, 2011, we were urged to take action in our hometowns and/or college campuses to bring Al Jazeera English to local cable networks. Currently, Al Jazeera English channel is available in only four U.S. cities. Since 2006, the primary method of dissemination for Al Jazeera programs in the United States has been through online streaming and is the most watched news channel on YouTube. It receives approximately 2.5 million views per month. Rethink Press is advocating for Al Jazeera news to be included on cable tv in order to reach a broader audience. IPS Fellow Phyllis Bennis spoke to the attendees about the importance of a new voice in the media that is not controlled by U.S. corporate interests:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W31lwVFAIaA

Prior to this event, I wasn’t familiar with Al Jazeera English but the intern mixer has definitely piqued my interest in becoming involved in the cause. Kudos to Rethink Press for making the case for the expansion of this news station and bringing it to the attention to over 80 students representing at least 10 organizations in the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia metro area.

Timeka Smith is an Institute for Policy Studies intern.