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Al-Jazeera English Channel Set To Launch

(AP (file))
Next to New York City, there is a larger concentration of news media in Washington than anywhere else in the country. Yes, all the recognizable names have bureaus here – the networks, the New York Times, wire services, etc. Foreign news organizations are well represented, too, and now one more player is on the scene – Al-Jazeera. In the works for some time now, the English-language version of the Arab-based network is ready to compete on the International stage. From USA Today's Peter Johnson:
Al-Jazeera International will broadcast from Doha, Qatar, and from bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; London; and Washington, D.C. Cable and satellite distribution deals are expected to be announced today.

Programs will include talk and feature shows and several daily newscasts featuring live reports from the four regions with "different cultural views of the day's events," says Will Stebbins, AJI's Washington bureau chief.

"There's an appetite for international news that doesn't come from a specific national perspective," he says. "We're not going to have any accent."

Al-Jazeera has been a lightening rod since 9/11 thrust the region onto center stage and its English channel will certainly be viewed with suspicion in many quarters. Here's more:
Dave Marash, a former ABC Nightline correspondent who'll co-anchor a daily newscast, says Al-Jazeera got a black eye from the Bush administration for airing Osama bin Laden videotapes and live reports from Fallujah, Iraq.

Al-Jazeera reported news in both cases, he says, and its journalistic "aspirations, tactics and techniques" are like those of any mainstream news outlet. "No holds barred, political ideology, party affiliation. When people actually see the product, I think a lot of that (criticism) is going to go away."

The question is, will you watch?
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