What the Heck is Al Jazeera America?

al-jazeera-americaTired of “info-tainment?” Tired of pundits screaming at each other between the seemingly endless commercials for Activia, reverse home mortgages and gold investments? Have you had just about enough of watching MSNBC only to watch “defund Obamacare” ads in the middle of the Rachel Maddow Show?

Well, guess what? Al Jazeera America launches on this coming Tuesday, August 20th, and they have stated that there will be no more than 6 minutes of commercials per hour. In addition to that, they have promised to be completely unbiased.

“It will be fact-based, meaty, balanced reporting,” stated Al Jazeera America deputy launch chief Paul Eedle. “We will be absolutely unbiased and impartial.”

There will be some familiar faces like Soledad O’Brien and Ali Velshi formerly with CNN, as well as some former executives from NBC, CBS and others.

Many have speculated that Al Jazeera will face an uphill fight to gain traction in the American media, but there is a niche right now that is just begging to be filled with a straight-forward news channel devoid of spin, regardless of which “side” it comes from. The other problem (which can be easily be disproven by Al Jazeera) is the idea pushed by right-wing media that they’re an anti-American, pro-radical Islam propaganda machine. The people who tend to believe that are those who have never actually watched the channel, from my personal experiences in talking with people who have voiced that concern.

Al Jazeera’s target audience is a younger demographic which tends to be more globally-minded and independent in their world view, versus those who rely on just a couple of sources for their information. They’re hoping to appeal to an audience that doesn’t want their news delivered to them with regurgitated talking points, out of context video clips, and an ever present partisan slant reinforced by hosts who angrily shout down guests brought on to prove they’re “fair and balanced.” As much as I enjoy some of the programs on MSNBC, they are there to make money off the other side of the political spectrum, with an admittedly liberal slant. Nothing wrong with that, but a lot of us prefer to process information and come to our own conclusions.

While our “news” market is already saturated with a myriad of commercial and independent media sources, there is a huge void when it comes to actual news instead of hyped partisan opinion thinly disguised as news – and that is the void Al Jazeera America hopes to fill. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping that we finally get an actual source of “fair and balanced” news. Only time will tell whether Al Jazeera America lives up to their word and succeeds in bringing that to us.


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