Your move

Feb 28, 2002

At Duke University this evening, a group of us (Erin, me, Anna, and Erin’s classmates Becky, Briton and Jonell) heard a talk by Hafez al-Mirazi, the Washington correspondent for the Al-Jazeera television news network. Al-Jazeera, he explained, means ”the peninsula”, it is an independent network based in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and covers newsworthy events in 22 Arab countries. These countries, he says, have both Muslim and Christian people and are at varying stages of economic and political development. ”You can’t say the American media was neutral in covering [this] war,” he said, noting a difference in the way the American media covered the 1991 Gulf War and how uncritical they’ve been in covering the current conflict. This is in part, he acknowledged, because American soil was attacked. While I disagree with his assessment (just yesterday I read a blistering editorial, Spoils of War, by Lewis Lapham in Harper’s), and some of his other remarks about the American media, I found his explanation of Al-Jazeera’s striving to present many perspectives on the news and issues to be informative. I’ve never seen the network—it’s an Arabic-language broadcast and I wouldn’t understand it anyway; but, he said, Al-Jazeera hopes to one day offer English captioning—and I’ve only read a handful of American voices about how Al-Jazeera covers the news (Thomas Friedman in the New York Times continues to offer his succinct, insightful commentary), so I’m eager to read and hear more perspectives so I can come to a more balanced understanding. Perspective, said al-Mirazi, is sometimes called bias, but in reality reporters report from and out of their environment. Tomorrow, I’ll attend a talk by a UNC professor who is an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ah, so much to learn …

West Wing tonight was cerebral as always, with multiple chess boards as both literal props and figurative realms of brinksmanship. Another great episode, and one that made me want to graduate from NetUno. Chess, anyone?

Anton Zuiker

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