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Why I Prefer Al Jazeera English To Any Indian News Channel For Global News

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By Aditi Thakker:

I started watching news with Star News, and slowly moved on to the likes of Times Now and NDTV, until I realised that most of these news channel do not show you even a fraction of what is going on around the world. Sure, they manage to highlight most of the important events happening across the country, however events happening in the Northeast or the Red Corridor hardly ever make it to the news. My search for global news took me to Al Jazeera English (AJE). Other than the facts that AJE viewers are not plagued by commercial product advertisements or “high priority” celebrity news, here are some reasons why Al Jazeera English is the news channel for you:

al jazeera

Neutrality: Regardless of its name, there are no regional or religious allegiances that Al Jazeera English maintains in their news production, to their home nation Qatar. The socio-political events of the Middle East are given just as much coverage, with criticism and applause, as that of Africa, East Asia or the Americas. Their coverage of recent wars is considered to be closest to reality, no extra ‘masala’ and no regard for national interest. Ever wondered what a debate on Indian and Pakistani relations looks like, when the anchor is neutral and has examined both sides of the issue? Ever watched a debate on Kashmir or Manipur, which gives you both sides of the story?

Global Perspective: Homed in Qatar, the channel has moved beyond the Middle East in its news coverage ever since they launched the English language channel. The earthquake in Chile was given just as much coverage as the one in Haiti or Southern China. While the world watched the chase to capture the Boston Marathon bomber who killed three, Al Jazeera also featured the situation in earthquake stricken Iran where hundreds were feared dead. AJE doesn’t seem to pick sides, or priorities. If it’s happening somewhere in the world, they will report it. While Indian news channels have done well at covering Obama’s Inauguration, the Royal Wedding and the Royal Baby, there is more going on in the world that merits attention.

Responsible Journalism: Discussions on AJE are conducted in a very civil manner, where everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinion, question one another and expect reasonable responses in return. You really feel like it’s a news studio and not a fish market. The anchors are not aggressive in their questions and hardly ever ask leading questions. They are objective, impartial and fair. There are definitely some news anchors in India who follow similar guidelines, but I’m not sure an entire news channel can be recognised for the same.

Documentaries and Short Series: Along with shows for just current events and news, AJE also features many documentaries, and programs on ongoing practices. They have featured short series on the lives of African immigrants living illegally in Europe and the French Interventions in Africa among others. They featured a series called the Indian Hospital, based on Narayana Hrudalaya, their social commitments to improving healthcare in India. A few Indian news channels, like NDTV do show documentaries that they have created, once in a while. They could do it more often.

User-friendly and Updated Website: The Al Jazeera English website has sections on regions, different programs, individual blogs, an ‘opinions’ area where web-users can discuss issue and Live Television. The website is extremely well organised, updated many times a day and needless to say advert free. It is unfortunate that websites of many Indian news channels are plagued by adverts, news of cat fights between Indian actresses, and many a times, news pieces with extremely misleading headlines. Does India really deserve no better news than what Aishwarya Rai’s daughter likes to wear, in Top Stories?

There are many news channels around the world, and with the new set-top box system of television viewing, many international channels are becoming available in India. There may be other news channels in the world just as efficient as AJE, but if you’re looking for one in Asia or the developing world, you’re looking for Al Jazeera English. AJE isn’t going to tell you everything about what’s going on in India, for which you may still have to refer to Indian channels. But if you think there is something going on in India that Indian channels are not reporting, you might just get lucky with AJE.

You must be to comment.
  1. Zoya Fateh

    very impressive n informative piece of writing.. well done!! (y)

  2. Abhijit

    Thanks Aditi. Excellent case material for my media students. Need more analysis like this.

  3. Sanju Latha

    nice liked it… nice information (Y)

  4. Vaishali Jain

    How ignorant of me… I had no idea Al Jazeera English existed.
    I found its site really interesting and informative. 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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