Monday, August 19, 2013

1215 You Can Call Me Al

1215 You Can Call Me Al

Al Jazeera is set to invade your TV tomorrow (Tuesday, August 20,  2013.)

Most of the cable and satellite services that said it wouldn’t carry it will carry it.

Thanks, Al Gore, for selling your relatively useless Current TV to an Arab oil sheik with an anti-American reputation.  But $500-million is an offer most of us wouldn’t refuse.  Even rich environmentalists with huge personal carbon footprints like the self-described inventor of the internet.

And do we need another cable news service?  We have CNN (regular and sensational crime versions) and MSNBC and Fox (regular and business versions) and  BBC and CCTV from China and RTV from Russia and CNBC and Bloomberg.

Well, maybe room for one more.

These are tough times in journalism.  Lots of people out of work.  So the sugar sheik has plenty of really good people to do his work.

A lot of good reporters and anchors, producers, photographers, directors and such were out there looking.

Put a big bowl of these types in a newsroom in New York (including an oil tanker-load of former colleagues) and chances are, you’ll get some pretty decent reporting.

The newsroom has a lot going for it: Money.  More money. Still more money.  TV news is expensive.
Start from scratch operations like ‘Jazeera have a habit of succeeding.  Look at CNN in 1980, Bloomberg in 1990 and Fox in 1996.

Maybe this one will, too.

Also going for them: sponsors are pretty much shunning the new tent in the bazaar.  But the bazaar has turned this to its advantage: six minutes of commercials per hour instead of the usual 15-plus.

When an Al Jazeera anchor says “we’ll take a quick break” he or she will mean it, unlike, say HLN, where a “quick” break gives you enough time to shower and shave and not miss a story.

And they promise straight news, no shouting and minimal celebrity gossip.

We could all use a dose of un-sensational serious reporting from US bureaus where no one else has them... 12 cities and counting, in addition to places where all the established services have them... Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles... places like that.

Can they do what they say they can do?  Yes.  Can they sustain it? Evidently.  Will they?

Shrapnel (San Diego Snarky Edition):

--We want Bob Filner, the hamhandedly oversexed harasser who soon will be recalled as mayor of San Diego, CA and who will need a job.  New York does not discriminate against these types.  We have Spitzer and Weiner, so what’s one more.
--Filner is higher on the scale of disgustability than either Spitzer’s or Weiner’s misdeeds.  The Spitzonians were paid fairly well for their trouble and the Weinerschatzies encouraged Anthony at the very least.

--Where’s the Westboro Baptist Church when you need it?  Its membership will picket a fence if they believe it has deviated an inch from whatever it is they think is right.  Maybe California is just too corrupt for their brand of purity.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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