9 11 2007

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to write a defense of al-Jazeera, but their code of ethics says why I love them better than I ever could. If CNN has such a code in their “about” section, it’s very difficult to find.

There are 10 points, and every progressing number fills me with love, but for the sake of brevity I’ll just quote the first three and you can check the rest out yourself.

1. Adhere to the journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political considerations over professional ones.

2. Endeavour to get to the truth and declare it in our dispatches, programmes and news bulletins unequivocally in a manner which leaves no doubt about its validity and accuracy.

3. Treat our audiences with due respect and address every issue or story with due attention to present a clear, factual and accurate picture while giving full consideration to the feelings of victims of crime, war, persecution and disaster, their relatives and our viewers, and to individual privacy and public decorum. Read the rest of Al-Jazeera’s code of ethics

It’s fair to say that having a good code of ethics doesn’t mean an organization will always follow it, but if you compare al-Jazeera’s coverage of world events to say, CNN’s, I think you’ll agree that a good code of ethics definitely helps.


MTV and Nickelodeon in Arabic

8 11 2007

spongebobMTV Arabia will be launched November 17, and Nickelodeon Arabia will be launched in 2008. Both will include a combination of subtitled programs and local programming.

MTV Arabia has plans for an original Arabic series called “Hip Hop Na,” a reality show to find the best hip hop acts in seven Middle Eastern countries. The winner gets a record deal. I hope I will be able to find this on YouTube.

I think the Nickelodeon channel has a better shot at success than the MTV channel, because, as the article notes, the Middle East market is already flooded with Arabic-language music channels. And I’m not sure how many people share this impression, but in my mind MTV is so symbolically linked with American excess.

Then again, there appears to be a pretty serious dichotomy among Muslim and Middle Eastern youth – at the same time there’s a distrust of the American media, people also kind of eat it up.

Relevant statistic: about 60% of the population in the Middle East is under 25.

(Image from Asharq Alawsat)

U.S. high fives Egypt, sticks tongue out at Iran

3 11 2007

I guess maybe you’ve heard by now about the U.S. backing Egypt’s nuclear power program. It alarmingly hypocritical, given that we’re itching for war with Iran over the same thing.

To be fair I have to point out that, right now, the Egyptian government is much more favorably disposed to the U.S. (and to Israel) than Iran. But Mubarak is not going to live forever, and the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining more support in Egypt daily. Which makes our support for the Egyptian nuclear program seem somewhat foolish – if we are labeling the clerical government in Iran dangerous, an Egyptian government lead by the Muslim Brotherhood would have to be equally as dangerous. And such a government is possible in the near future.

But that is not really the point. The point is that this is the kind of behavior that engenders resentment of the U.S. We are clearly not concerned with nuclear proliferation here – we’re concerned with making sure our buddies get what they want, and that anyone who opposes us doesn’t.

And people don’t appreciate being bullied like that.

Background on the Kurds, Turkey and the PKK

3 11 2007
The Kurds
The Kurds

Dreams of independence
Turkey’s lonely Kurdish villages
Turkey’s Kurds try to be heard

In search of Kurdistan

Al-Jazeera has this handy little table in its recent article about nationalist, anti-Kurdish sentiment in Turkey. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to know more about the Kurdish/Turkish/PKK situation.