Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street coverage at Al Jazeera English

I've kept my promise to have a look at Al Jazeera English, and I'm glad I did.

I began with an episode of Inside Story, “'Occupy': A catalyst for change?” The host is Mike Hanna, who used to work as a senior international correspondent for CNN. He interviews a “media team member” of Occupy Wall Street and an independent trader based in the U.K. The news media are full of unsupported claims that Occupy has no coherent objectives. Hanna starts by asserting, “There's no real, defined agenda, no list of demands,” but goes on to ask, “What, exactly, are people gathering around?” And, miracle of miracles, the Occupy spokesman is ready with a brief and clear answer:

Well, fundamentally what we're looking for is economic justice. We want to create a society where the needs of the vast majority of people are prioritized over the profits of a small number of corporations, which have an undue influence over the organization of our society. And, moreover, we're looking for a more-democratic structure — a way that people can actually hold those officials that make these decisions accountable. Those are the two fundamental things we're looking for.
It turns out that the trader sympathizes with Occupy, though his focus is on getting people to take control of their own investments, and thereby disempower the banking and securities firms that have screwed them over. The spokesman correctly points out that most of the “99 percent” have nothing to invest. As I've mentioned before, about 97 percent of American wealth is concentrated on 50 percent of households.

I‘ve also found that Al Jazeera English has a remarkable collection of opinion pieces from around the world. Here a Jewish writer responds to charges by conservatives that Occupy Wall Street is anti-Semitic. The coup de grâce is the video at the end.

It was shot at the Wall Street demonstration on Yom Kippur Eve and it features not a few anti-Semites but thousands of Jews celebrating the holiest day of the Jewish year, a day dedicated to the same ideals as Occupy Wall Street: Repentance for putting our desires before the needs of the poor, the homeless, and the exploited.
The film Control Room, one of very few documentaries I give a five-star rating, exploded my prejudice about Al Jazeera. It
peers into the controversial and often dangerous operations of the Al Jazeera news network, an outlet that's become the most accepted informational resource in the Arab community — even though it often enrages its own people. Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim gains extraordinary access to Al Jazeera journalists and examines the risks they confront on a daily basis by simply doing their jobs.
I'm guessing that I've missed Al Jazeera English because other news sites rarely link to it. I'll be checking it daily, at least for a while.

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