Once upon a time, a journalist from the international news organization, al-Jazeera, ventured into Texas territory.
He claims he was not welcomed by a school in Booker, simply because he worked for the news company based in the Middle East -- Qatar to be specific.
The reporter tells the story of how he was first welcomed as a journalist, then shunned as a journalist from Al Jazeera. He was traveling around the country, by the way, seeking insight on how 9/11 has impacted life in America.
The superintendent who allegedly shunned the reporter responded to the critique, saying his actions had nothing to do with the Middle East (save the superintendent's comment, “I think it was damn rotten what they did.”)
I at least applaud al-Jazeera's transparency in posting the superintendent's response. I can't quite decide if it's the reporter or superintendent who's exaggerating. I imagine the truth falls somewhere in the middle, as with most situations.
Regardless, this situation simply illuminates a more widespread uneasiness about al-Jazeera as a news organization.
Some argue the originally Arabic news channel is pro-Islam and anti-American because, among other things, al-Jazeera aired messages from Osama bin Laden and footage of killed and captured American soldiers.
In response, al-Jazeera's London bureau chief criticized Western media, saying,
"I can see why American and British politicians and military leaders don't like us showing these pictures. They show a side of the war that they don't want projected because it may affect public opinion in their country negatively. In these things, the western media is highly sanitized. You are not seeing what war, this war, is actually like."
As a journalist, I tend to lean toward knowing and showing-- showing the caskets of fallen American soldiers arriving home; showing what our men and women are up against overseas; showing the reality of war, uncut, unscripted, without commentary, no matter how hard it is to watch.
I remember watching a news channel in Spain, which was broadcasting footage of three men, waist-deep in dirt, bags over their bodies. They were being pelted with stones -- being stoned to death -- until their torsos fell limp.
It made me ill. And it made me wonder, if this was being shown on an everyday 5 p.m. newscast abroad, what else are we missing out on at home? What images are Americans unknowingly being spared?
Is ignorance bliss?
With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, how have our views of the Middle East, of Middle Eastern news organizations even, changed?
How has our view on war changed? How has media coverage of the war changed?
Are we scared to look, apt to avoid?
Should we avoid certain images out of respect for soldiers and their families?
Plenty of questions and plenty of answers, I assume.
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