When I got into the office this morning and logged into Twitter, the news was flowing fast and furious about the anti-government rioting taking place in Egypt. American cable networks were giving spot coverage of the story, but the national media reporters, such as Brian Stelter and David Folkenflik, were pointing us to watch the Al Jazeera English (AJE) webstream for first-rate continuous coverage of the protests. I immediately fired up my browser and was greeted by stunning coverage. AJE was showing protestors throwing tear gas canisters back at police, throwing gasoline bombs at armored personnel carriers, and national police being knocked down by thrown objects.
Al Jazeera English has multiple reporters on the ground and multiple video feeds coming in. One of the most interesting bits was the comparison of Egyptian Television showing a section of the Cairo at peace, while next to it was the AJE showing sections of the city in flames. (If you watch AJE, you will see scenes of violence and scenes of quiet.)
AJE was not limited to Cairo. The network also has reporters on the ground in Suez and Alexandria.
The ironic thing is that although we have no official censorship in the United States, AJE is virtually unavailable on American cable providers. They simply don’t carry it. Why? Apparently we don’t need to know how the Arab world views the news… In 2009, Tony Burman, who was managing director of AJE, told NPR:
“Part of the challenge has been the lack of awareness within the U.S. of Al-Jazeera English. Obviously, another aspect has been the political stigma that’s been attached to Al-Jazeera Arabic, and a kind of assumption on the part of some people that what they’ve heard about Al-Jazeera Arabic (a) is true and (b) applies to Al-Jazeera English.”
While American media are covering the story, they are far more limited in terms of resources compared to AJE.
According to Mohamed Nanabhay, the head of AJE Online, traffic to the network’s web site has been overwhelming, perhaps 200 times higher than normal.
In addition to being available on the web, AJE also has a streaming app for the iPhone and iPad.