Saturday, July 03, 2004
Hip Hip Hurra
An article about the US propaganda - oops, I mean fairness and accuracy - machine in the Middle East. Somewhere between all the glowing descriptions of the set ("On the set, clear panels fill the backdrop with a stylized map of the Middle East that marks each country with its name in Arabic. The design is clean and modern, blue-tinted glass in a back-lit orange frame." OR "Between reports, the anchorman adjusts his tie. "Twenty-seven seconds," an American technician tells him in English indicating the time before they return to air." Barf), there are a few choice passages in here.
Alhurra has already forced changes at its rival stations, [news director Mouafac] Harb said. Some of their journalists applied for jobs at Alhurra after the station began broadcasting, he said.As my Aunt Deb pointed out, it's interesting that the salaries at al-Hurra have forced up salaries at al-Jazeera and other Arabic language stations, since the US is subsidizing al-Hurra salaries. Just a note to all you taxpayers out there. Also, the article goes out of its way to show just how modern (read "Western", read "not evil... like al-Jazeera") the al-Hurra set-up is. One example:
"Now Al-Jazeera and other channels want to keep their own people so they have to start to treat them well," he said. "They have raised their salaries."
Its offices boast the latest technology. Each journalist has a television alongside a computer, and though about 90 percent of them come from the Middle East, only one woman wears a headscarf.Let me first say that I have a close friend who works in the same office building as the Washington headquarters of al-Jazeera. I asked her how many women she sees coming and going wearing headscarves. Zero. So I think that al-Hurra is probably not all that out of the norm for an Arabic language business in Washington, DC. Second of all, why the hell is this even mentioned? Is it incompatible to have a computer and a television and a headscarf? What is the implication here? That somehow al-Hurra is more trustworthy because these are good Arabs - not the scarfwearing kind? That this illustrates just how Western and modern and fantastic and enlightened al-Hurra is in comparison to the rabid propaganda of al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya? It's bullshit and it doesn't sit well with me.