The world has changed. I knew this, but an excellent program on Al Jazeera about Marco Polo brought this to mind. This happened on a day that I ordered some new clothes from my Italian tailor.
The man travels to meet my son-in-law, who is Italian and needs many suits for his job. We both like Italian fabrics and appreciate workmanship that is better than one can buy off the rack. Today, the tailor mentioned that he will travel to China to service new customers. There is a lot of money is China, and demand for good Western products and services is high. Italian fabric and tailoring are popular, as are German cars and French wine.
The change I mentioned above has to do with fabric. At the time of Marco Polo, people in the west sought silk from China. Now, the flow of expensive fabric is in the other direction.
Because I frequently watch Al Jazeerah, I am aware that some of its journalist have been jailed and tried in Egypt. I never understood the real background, beyond the bit about them allegedly “aiding terrorists”, that useful catch-all invented by the United States government after September 11, 2001.
Now, I know Egypt’s beef and why these journalist are scapegoats. Once again, as with most events in the Middle East, it’s all about religion: Sunni vs. Shiite. It seems that the Qatar government, who owns Al Jazeerah, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The new government in Egypt, which ousted the democratically elected government controlled by the MB, see the MB as a terrorist organisation. Supposedly, Al Jazeerah gave more positive coverage to the Brotherhood than to the current government (before the putsch), so someone had to pay. Because the Egyptians could not directly attack Qatar, some poor journalists must spend time in an Egyptian jail. The religion and politics of their owners treated them badly.
Find this news channel and watch it: you will learn stuff and avoid the inanity of other US news outlets.
Fox News reported (before providing their opinion) on tomorrow’s launch of Al Jazeerah America. Of course, they stressed that Al Jazeerah played Osama Bin Laden’s tapes, which makes them an ally of terrorists, as opposed to being a news organization with a scoop.
AJA’s expressed plan is to focus on news, not opinion, which will make them different than US media organizations, all of which have cut back on news gathering. All major networks are owned by conglomerates, who demand profit from all units. News costs money and does not bring much revenue, so what little news programming left must be made more dramatic, which means less news and more polemic.
Al Jazeerah is owned by the emir of Qatar, who has deep pockets and little interest in profit, or so it seems from past performance. I like to watch the channel, because they provide news, not all of which is pleasant or of interest. They have staff throughout the world and are not afraid to dig deep. Their reporting of the United States is far more truthful and less candy coated than any provided by an American company.
I will be interested to see how many intelligent and discerning folks still reside in the country of my birth: viewership numbers will give an indication. Of course, I expected that much will be done to ensure that as few households as possible have access to “real news”.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.