Hands down, the best coverage of the crisis in Egypt is coming from Al Jazeera English (AJE).
I was originally introduced to the news source by an American friend — a conservative Republican and military veteran who has lived and worked in the Middle East for years. “It’s the best news channel in the world,” he said. When I started watching, I was surprised by the quality and breadth of the news. I grew up in Canada, so I’m used to news that is not specifically focused on the United States, and continue to think that people benefit from different national perspectives.
According to an article in Salon, about 120 million homes across the Middle East and Europe tune in to AJE every day, but the news source has been unable to find a home here. Not one major cable or satellite network in this country will carry it, although there are a couple of exceptions:
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Unless you live in Burlington, Vt., or Northeast Ohio, where two local cable networks defied the industry by adding the channel to their line-ups, the only way to see the channel’s programming is on YouTube, or by paying for either a subscription broadband service or a satellite dish from French company GlobeCast.
Media professionals have left CNN and the BBC to work for the Doha-based channel, but many American leaders continue the narrative that Al Jazeera is an outlet for terrorists. It doesn’t help that most people confuse Al Jazeera English with Al Jazeera Arabic — while the two channels are owned by the same company, they are operated independently and are quite different. While Al Jazeera English reports from a Middle East perspective, it’s an international news source dedicated to quality journalism. It has knowledge and access to many parts of the world — well beyond the Middle East — that no one else has.
The Egyptian government just announced over the weekend that it was closing AJE’s Cairo bureau and revoking its license to broadcast from the country. The network has found ways to continue its coverage, but maybe that will improve its reputation in the United States. At the very least, a lot of Americans are now getting introduced to this fantastic news channel from its streaming coverage of the current crisis.