Who needs Al Jazeera America?

In the network’s absence, we should rely on alternative sources of international events coverage.

Jasper Johnson

Al Jazeera has announced it will cancel Al Jazeera America before April. Although I’m very fond of international news sources, I was glad to hear the announcement.
After BBC Arabic shut down in 1996, Al Jazeera’s founders meant to fill the resulting gap in coverage. The network has somehow convinced many Westerners that its reporting is objective. However, this is far from the case.
The news company’s western reputation grew during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when Americans increasingly came to regard Al Jazeera a news source that was somehow more genuine than those based in the United States. 
I agree that Al Jazeera can provide insightful coverage. But it certainly has biases of its own, albeit ones more difficult to spot than those in American news. 
As writer Faisal Saeed Al Mutar put it, “Al Jazeera Arabic is like the Fox News of America.” In reporting on religious issues, the network often has a pro-Sunni bias. As for the brand’s duplicity on social issues, the American version covers issues related to homosexuality, but the Arabic version often avoids these altogether. 
No news source is perfect, of course. That’s why it’s important that readers pay attention to the biases of the stories they consume. In Al Jazeera America’s absence, I think we can rely on sites like BBC Middle East, Rudaw and even Reddit for some valuable international coverage. 
And before we mourn Al Jazeera America’s departure too much, we need to thoroughly weigh what we’ll actually lose when its reporting inconsistencies go off the air. 
Jasper Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected].