Al-Jazeera on Satellite TV

Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Ali Tour Bed and Breakfast

Flag of Uzbekistan  ,
Wednesday, January 2, 2008

For four nights I stayed at the Ali Tour Bed and Breakfast. After the long night drive from Fergana, I was greeted to offers of "beer and vodka," prostitutes, and a late night breakfast, not so odd if you are immersed in Central Asian culture for a while. Ali was obviously very much into hosting yet testing his guests in his own humorous, twisted way. My room was a comfortable place to relax after back-to-back long road trips and to watch satellite television.

Today, Bruce Springsteen would have to change the lyrics of his song from "Fifty-six Channels and Nothing On" to "Seven Hundred Eight Channels and Nothing On." Nevertheless, I watched Al-Jazeera, to get another perspective on global news.

The English Al-Jazeera broadcasts former-BBC journalists' stories around the world via satellite. The feel is professional and perhaps not at all like you would expect, if you'd only listened to FOX, CNN, and BBC interpretations of the newer Arabic network.

The content is strikingly different: an extended documentary on Palistinian schools or biofuels and their environmental impact, a hip weather report, stories commenting on on a lack of freedom of the press, especially in Iraq, where 31 (mostly Iraqi) journalists have been killed. An Al-Jazeera cameraman is currently on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay, held without trial.

Despite taking a higher ground, Al-Jazeera notably lacked unfavorable news about Saudi Arabia or Iran, as they've been pressured to be more gentle. The US has also asked the network to be careful in misinterpreting events in Iraq that might compromise security.

In the end, if you have to watch news, perhaps a mix of newspapers, Al-Jazeera, BBC, and CNN might give you a broader idea of the "truth" on the ground, but of course it's best to check it out yourself if you really want to know.
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