Ever since Al Jazeera English launched not long ago, I’ve heard a number of interviews with western journalists who have worked for the company. Almost every single one has shed new insight into the Middle East, highlighting often arcane cultural understandings with the people who live there.
There has been a general push-back against Al Jazeera and its English station since its creation, to the extent that it’s having a hard time finding a venue in the US. This is sad considering that Al Jazeera English could bridge the cultural divide between western and Arab media.
Let’s face it. Western journalists not only experience culture shock when covering the Middle East, they’re also largely dependent on the US military outfits with whom they embed. Al Jazeera English has a number of western journalists who collaborate with their Arab counterparts. They’re able to utilize resources and cultural context in ways that US outlets could only dream of.
I think it’s high time that western news companies begin syndicating at least some of their content. Yes, I think some of the criticisms launched against Al Jazeera are valid, but it seems silly to throw the baby out with the bathwater by not utilizing their expertise, especially as the US continues to get more mired down in foreign policy dealing with the Middle East.