Al Jazeera wins America in people-style coverage of Egyptian revolution

MUMBAI: The coverage of the Egyptian revolution has done for Al Jazeera what Vietnam War did for American media and Gulf War for CNN.

The Western media‘s countless criticism of the Qatar-based satellite channel has bitten dust in the face of the network’s relentless coverage of the event.
  From the instant the Egyptian demonstration began, Al Jazeera English had more reporters and cameraman on ground than any other network, walking with the protesters and covering every moment of the historical episode.

During the initial days of the coverage, American media used Al Jazeera video and referred to its content with admiration, usually reserved for the BBC. Since then the 5-year-old network has dedicated itself to covering the unfolding events almost 24 hours a day.

Well-known Western broadcasters have been reporting on the demonstrations sweeping across Egypt but it’s the Arab channel that has enthralled viewers around the world with its steady coverage.

The news teams remained embedded with the public, capturing their stories, giving the wider audience a chance to relate and find meaning with the events taking place in one of the oldest civilizations of the World.

Al Jazeera reporters are covering the winds of change, changing locations and reporting with stealth to evade arrests and confiscation of equipments.

The channel’s bureau in Cairo is shut and its journalists were arrested and equipments confiscated, though they were released later.

The Mubarak government even jammed Al Jazeera’s signals from NileSat, the state-owned satellite carrier, hindering its ability to be easily available in Egypt and North Africa.

But the channel reappeared through other carriers, as instructions on how to find the channel went viral through the Internet.

Al Jazeera surely has won new fans across the United States for its up-close, around-the-clock coverage of the protests in Egypt. But almost none of the cable or satellite companies in the United States carry the channel.

According to Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English website has witnessed a 2000 per cent increase in hits.

While millions of Americans switched to their computers, many don’t have the option of watching the uprising on their TV sets as Al Jazeera is not available in the majority of the 50 states for general public view.

Albeit the channel is available through YouTube’s special service of live streaming for the channel, supplementing the channel’s own Web stream.

Says Al Jazeera Network director general Wadah Khanfar, “The past month has shown us something that America can no longer ignore: millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region, and too many are deprived of that opportunity.”

Launched in Qatar in 1996, Al Jazeera has more than 400 reporters in over 60 countries, according to its website. It says it can reach 220 million households in more than 100 countries.

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