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Al Jazeera Star Struck in Burlington?

June 12, 2008

The auditorium was filled to standing room only. The list of speakers was long. At issue was whether Burlington Telecom should remove Al Jazeera from its cable offerings. Most people stayed through all 50+ speakers. These are my notes:

Afterwards in the courtyard I met and talked to Josh Rushing an ex marine and star of “Control Room” who is now a correspondent for Al Jazeera. Also met briefly Tony Burman the managing director of Al Jazeera International. They both seemed as blown away by Burlington’s rising to the occasion as some of us were by their attendence. Burlington Telecom is one of only three cable networks in the country that carry the network so far. Once we are past this jam we must lobby to have Al Jazeera included in the basic package. Really!

How many places in the world would you not be surprised to find a bunch of folks inside for several hours on one of the most beautiful Vermont evenings of the year to discuss whether or not the Al Jazeera network should be carried by a telecom company.

I have to admit I almost bagged it to spend time in the garden. but I am not disappointed. I am disappointed that I did not get up to the mike, but plenty did. the tally was 43 or 44 pro keeping the network in the BT lineup to 8 against. In my own defense, I did write a letter to the editor of the Burlington Free Press, which was in part an editing of previous post ( see June 1).

The friend that I attended with thought that there was a clear class divide, or if not class, then one resting on educational level, between the two camps. I don’t know about that. In any case, it makes me sad that there are people who genuinely wish to have the Arabic network removed.

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One comment

  1. At the 48th Monte Carlo Television Festival the award for “Best 24 Hour News Program” was contested by entries from Al Jazeera English BBC News, Sky News, Lisboa TV and the Phoenix Satellite Television Company. The award recognized Al Jazeera English’s “extensive international reach and efforts to dig deeper to give its international audience a richer understanding of the events that affect their lives.”

    Winning the award for “Best 24 Hour News Program” is not a one-off aberration for Al Jazeera English but one in a series of accomplishments scored by a news channel launched only in November 2006. Those accomplishments are reflective of AJE’s potential to bring unique value to its audiences in (Burlington, Vermont and elsewhere) as it is poised to set new standards in the coming years.

    Even a cursory glance at AJE’s accomplishments since its launch Al Jazeera English has proved it to be a unique news channel, winning a number of nominations in recognition of its professional quality and technical accomplishments:

    Al Jazeera English”s Far East Correspondent Hamish Macdonald won Royal Television Society”s Young Journalist of the Year Award for 2007 while it’s Africa correspondent Haru Mutasa was also among the three nominees.

    Al Jazeera English was nominated for news channel of the year in its first year of broadcasting and was up against BBC News 24 and 2006’s winner Sky News. The awards were presented on 20 February 2008 at a ceremony at the London Hilton, hosted by ITV News at Ten’s Julie Etchingham.

    Over all, Aljazeera English won Royal Television Society Television Journalism Award nominations in the following categories:

    News – International

    Afghanistan: Taliban Embed – Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English
    News Channel of the Year Al Jazeera English

    Young Journalist of the Year Hamish Macdonald – Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English Haru Mutasa – Al Jazeera English News Hour Al Jazeera English

    At the 12th Asian Television 2007 Awards, it won the award for Best Single News/Report (Kylie Grey, Orange) Environment Special, and came runners-up for Best news programme Half Hour Bulletin-from Kula Lumpur.

    Additionally, Al Jazeera English has won three awards at the BDA World Gold Awards.
    AJE was presented with three Bronze trophies at the 2007 PROMAX & BDA International Conference in New York 14 June 2007 in the categories of Art Direction & Design: Topical Campaign

    An even-handed approach to judge a news channel is to look at its demerits and merits. Are there some commentators overwhelmed by an urge to become an executioner before even pretending to be judge and jury? In Aljazeera’s case, many critics with a disposition to dismiss everything new, haste to pass a judgement prior to looking at it sufficiently enough and objectively enough.



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