The recent crisis in Egypt makes clear what many have known for a few years now. Al Jazeera is the best major media source. The reporting is a little more fearless, the exposés are a little more in-depth, the feature stories and interviews are a little more thoughtful than all the other guys. If you’ve got to pick just one media outlet, you’d be a stubborn mule indeed not to pick Al Jazeera. It is more serious than CNN, more genuinely global than the New York Times, and more complicated than the BBC. This is not a matter for serious debate anymore. It is a basic fact. While watching Al Jazeera’s coverage of the revolution in Egypt on live web stream, I managed also to catch an extremely good interview with the important and eloquent President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in which he was asked tough questions about freedom of the press that American media outlets usually tiptoe around or ignore.
Al Jazeera, it turns out, keeps afloat with money from the Emir of Qatar. The Emir of Qatar keeps afloat by means of oil money, with some help from natural gas. Qatar has so much of both things that it enjoys one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world. So, there’s an economic model for you. Sustainable? Probably not. Dependent on the whims of an absolute monarchy? You got it. But the economic model upon which the previous century of good journalism was based was no less compromised. It is not the compromised position that matters so much as how you compromise. So far, Al Jazeera has taken their oil money and run straight for the utopia of journalistic integrity. It may not last. The good graces of the Emir of Qatar may sour. But all we are really looking for here is a temporary safe haven for real journalism in a time of media crisis. And it is time to give Al Jazeera the nod as the most interesting thing out there. From a tiny country in the Arabian Peninsula soaked in wealth by a global economy’s voracious need for energy comes the 21st century’s best current hope for an independent press.
From a report by Morgan Meis in The Smart Set. More Here