A New Way to Watch Al Jazeera English in America

A New Way to Watch Al Jazeera English in America

I'm petrified to think that people are frightened of information. Especially when it is misinformation that has taken Americans from prosperity to panic in just under a decade.

Vermonters are known to be proud, independent and opinionated. So it is hardly a coincidence that Vermont, one of very few states that actually airs the Al Jazeera English channel on local cable, is also the only state legislative body that has approved a resolution asking Congress to initiate impeachment hearings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney, those responsible for orchestrating much of the misinformation.

But I remain puzzled that Americans are not so interested in learning more about the rest of the world? The world is big, but it is getting smaller and Al Jazeera English offers both a regional voice and global perspective to world events, emphasizing news from the developing world.

I could tell you why I watch it, how much I learn from watching it, how compelling their programming is, the length and depth of their reports on Africa, Latin America and The Middle East. I could tell you that it fills a glaring gap in the mainstream media's lack of coverage of these regions.

Or I could simply tell you that it sells itself and give you a link to watch it for free in High Quality.

Here is the link to watch Al Jazeera English live and for free on the web. Just Click Here. (You can also watch other programs like BBC World Service, France 24 and Russia Today).

When Al Jazeera English was added to the unlimited bandwidth of Burlington Telecom, the broadband service provided in Vermont, it was only a matter of time before the decision was challenged. Ultimately, the city council voted 7-0 to urge the company to keep the channel and they recently signed a new carriage deal.

But the deafening gap in the airwaves across the country is still alarming, especially today. Whether you like it, hate it, have watched it, or are choosing that ignorance is bliss, there is no denying that Al Jazeera English is part of a movement that is pushing boundaries, challenging the status-quo in the Middle East, a region that not coincidentally dominated last tonight's debate between Senators Obama and McCain.

U.S. involvement has only grown in the region. Economic and financial indicators point towards a more complex yet tenuous relationship with the Middle East and the region remains very foreign to a large swath of the American public. It would seem logical to pay close attention to Al Jazeera English, to use it as a resource. But that has not yet happened, yet.

Our government may have tarnished our reputation abroad with its reckless wars and deceptions. It may have kicked us out of our homes, cut our jobs, and thrown us back to the brink of a potentially greater depression. But the American people are also on the brink of choosing a new leader, a new direction, in this notoriously-branded "change" election. It is true that most Americans feel as though their government has failed them in one way or another. It is difficult to digest the degrees to which we've been failed.

But times like these require an engaged and inspired public that consumes news focusing on serious matters with serious impact, instead of the type that perpetuates false and futile political chatter.

We need more different viewpoints, not just more of the same ones. Hopefully this post doesn't only expose you to pretentious ramblings about my disappointments with some of the press, but also convinces you to watch Al Jazeera English on LiveStation and judge for yourself. Maybe, you'll even comment below.

I hope this doesn't seem like an advertisement, and if it does, let me be forthright and say that I've recently decided to take a job with Al Jazeera English in Doha, Qatar. Perhaps this post is some sort of a manifestation of my hopes to stay connected to those here while I'm there, or simply to encourage us all to search for connections despite the frequently juxtaposed "Us VS Them" that seems all too pervasive within the media.

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About Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin grew up in California, Kuwait, Egypt and Austria. He has most recently worked as a news producer for The New York Times and as a web producer for the PBS international documentary series, Wide Angle. His work has been featured in Frontline/World online, TimeOut, Washington Week and other blogs. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he know teaches a new media skills class. In 2008 Ahmed won a Webby award for a multimedia project called Defining Middle Ground: The Next Generation of Muslim New Yorkers. It can be seen here: www.definingmiddleground.com His portfolio website can be seen at: www.ahmedeldin.com His family is originally from Palestine

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