Pondering Al Jazeera America…

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik writes about Al Jazeera America…six months in…

Is Al Jazeera America expanding the diversity of American TV with its programming, as some of us have hoped since the purchase of Current was announced? And does it look like the channel will become a true alternative for the kinds of news and information that U.S. viewers might not be able to find anywhere else on television?

In partial answer to those questions, I offer the documentary “On the Frontlines with the Taliban,” premiering at 9 p.m. March 21 on Al Jazeera America. A second part, “This Is Taliban Country,” is scheduled for 9 p.m. March 28.

As opposed to much American network and cable reporting on the fighting in Afghanistan, which is told from within a compound or fort looking out, this film is told from within the ranks of the insurgents. It opens with the camera among a ragged group of Taliban soldiers as they attack an Afghanistan army post. The sound of drones and NATO warplanes is overhead.

The documentary defines reporting from the ground-up, versus top-down. Instead of talking to PR-prepped generals and government officials back in their safe offices, this film gets down in the dust of the battlefield and captures the foot soldiers in all their fervor, bluster, frustration, finger-pointing, hope and fear as they launch an attack and then see it go mostly wrong.

2 Responses to “Pondering Al Jazeera America…”

  1. I usually don’t agree with Zurawik on much of anything but in this column I think he makes some good points. AJAM will never get the ratings of FNC or even MSNBC or CNN. But, in time (and when they get full nationwide coverage) they will develop a small loyal audience of informed viewers much as PBS has now compared to the big four networks. In the diversified cable news market of the future that’s all that will be needed to succeed.

  2. They need to get on more providers and they need their HD feed to be carried. Aside from that, they’ll be fine.

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