American Media and You: How to Stay Informed in the U.S.

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

– Thomas Sowell

For years, politicians and pundits have shouted about the “bias” in American media.  The typical theory is that everyone with a different narrative is hellbent on turning America into the next USSR, despite not really being able to pinpoint why this makes any sense other than the reporting not matching up with their preconceived notion of how the world should work.  As someone who watched our Pentagon war protest in 2007 get absolutely no media coverage beyond a few pictures of drum circles with tired captions about hippies, I can assure you that the “liberal” bias we hear about every day is clearly a myth.

Another issue, far more accurate than the previous, is whether the American news media really does anything at all within their proscribed duties to not only inform, but to challenge the establishment and to lift up democracy by exposing that which the public should know. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, as Justice Brandeis famously stated.  In this case, it’s rather frustrating when we see the difference between American and International versions of multinational magazines, for example.

So where, then, can we turn when the headlines on our own news media outlets focus on the latest reality shows and celebrity marriages while conflict rages on in half a dozen countries, most of which haven’t been covered by American media at all?  The good news is that there are credible and serious sources available, and one of them just made a very important acquisition.

Most Americans may not realize it, but al Jazeera, the Arab news network, has been available to our elected officials in Washington, D.C. for several years.  The name is unfamiliar to many Americans (and is unfortunately maligned by some of them), but federal representatives have maintained access to a network known for reporting the most important world news in a timely and direct fashion.  It’s important to realize that this is where our leaders go for world news despite the complete lack of citation.  It’s also important to remember that the English version of al Jazeera is available in a streaming format directly from their website along with the latest headlines and commentary from a wide range of voices.

The breaking news relates to a purchase in the works for AJE.  Current TV, a network launched years ago by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, is being acquired by the international news organization, providing an estimated reach of sixty million new American viewers.  With this move, those who prefer to pick up their world news from the television instead of a web browser may finally have a meaningful alternative.  Details are forthcoming, but I’ll be sure to mention any large-scale launch of the site on this blog when it happens.

With that said, I challenge all of you to share your news sources.  Are there other AJE readers out there?  Perhaps Russia Today is more your style, or the German site der Spiegel?  Do you stick with a social aggregator such as Reddit to deliver filtered information?  Leave it in the comments.