Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama passes up the troubled Al-Hurra

Al-Hurra, the U.S. news channel designed to compete with Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, has met with considerable criticism over the past year. A report commissioned by the BBG, the govenrment entity responsible for international broadcasting, was leaked to the ProPublica independent journalism outlet, revealing internal organizational problems and minimal impact abroad.

As we discussed last night, a tension in international broadcasting is the divide between providing credible journalism and a "voice" for the sponsoring country's perspective. Most IB professionals would indicate that journalism is the primary motivation, which probably explains why IB often gets attacked by legislators for not being "persuasive" enough, or more clearly articulating the U.S. case. (Why pay tax dollars for news that includes the "bad guy's" perspectives, as some might say). Nevertheless - Al-Hurra tried to have it both ways, and it didn't work out so well.

Given what we talked about last night about the communication infrastructure - the media and techonlogy people actually use to get information and communicate - where did President Obama go to talk to the Arab world? Not Al-Hurra - but Al-Arabiya.

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