Saturday, February 20, 2010

Al Jazeera, BBC go apeshit over Tiger Woods

What a disappointing day for journalism.

Take a look at this snapshot from the BBC News Americas website.

The lead story is "Repentant Woods sorry for affairs".

Nowhere on that page is there any mention of the Department of Justice's ruling following an investigation into the memos sent out by two Bush administration lawyers authorizing the use of aggressive interrogation techniques, including the much-maligned waterboarding, etc.

Compare the BBC website's choice of leading stories with oh, say the Huffington Post:

The Huffington Post is leading with the story, and has an interesting play on words to express ... well, dismay, for one.

This was the Huff Post front page as of 0500 EST.

The Huff Post also includes several links to other news stories related to this as well as entries by their usual slew of bloggers.

One would expect a story such as this, which paved the way for all kinds of human rights violations in Bagram, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be picked up by the world press. Alright, maybe not the whole world cares, but one would expect a news organization like Al Jazeera, which has championed itself as the network which covers stories other media to do not, to cover such an event.

Disappointingly, no. Al Jazeera English as of 0600 EST has not yet made any mention of the DOJ report, but has covered and written on its website extensively about the Tiger Woods affair.

Both Al Jazeera English's TV coverage and website have failed to cover the DOJ story.

Arabic Al Jazeera metioned the DOJ story in its morning news hour, but nothing yet on its website.

One has to question what is going on. Arabic Al Jazeera has a huge stake in covering this story, particularly since one of their own cameramen, Sami Haj, was held at Guantanamo and, by his own accounts and those of his lawyers, torture in lieu of the aforementioned memos.

Did the Al Jazeera networks drop the ball? Or are they chugging along on the BBC railroad?

These are difficult questions, to be sure, but they must be asked. How can we, as media consumers, trust the media, any media?

The Tiger Woods story has transfixed audiences, mostly in North America, and the BBC and Al Jazeera (at least English). Both the BBC and Al Jazeera are hoping to lure the audience with lurid stories of affairs and sexual romps. This is what sells. It is a shame that the BBC chose to lead with this story on its Americas page.

But it is a travesty that Al Jazeera is quickly failing its audiences and falling into the pit of journocrapitalism.

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