Indymedia, DailyKos etc - Al-Jazeera's useful idiots

JPost - "As hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe are protesting the US-armed and funded Israeli acts of war and Zionist genocide against the Palestinian population of Gaza, the slaughter continues with more bombings, siege and a blockade, plus a threatened ground war."

So reads a description of the Gaza fighting on the home page of, the Web site of the Independent Media Center, which describes itself as "a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth." It is accompanied by a picture of burned and bleeding children, among the relatively few civilian casualties of the Israeli assault on Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The photo is supplied by a Palestinian in Cyprus, and much of the information provided on Gaza comes from an Arab source as well.

According to a study by Dr. Tal Samuel-Azran, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University's Communications Department, this type of cooperation has become the norm. "Alternative" media in the West, particularly in the United States, have become a hub for the Arab or Muslim perspective on the region's conflicts, a perspective that is not shared or regularly represented by the mainstream media.

......Until recently, Western media deemed Al-Jazeera's most gruesome content too bloody and one-sided for broadcasting, Samuel-Azran's research found. For example, Samuel-Azran tracked three Al-Jazeera news broadcasts about American troops shaming Iraqi and Afghan civilians. "These three reports appeared zero times in the mainstream Western networks, but 700 times on major alternative outlets, including some such as [American liberal blog] DailyKos that have millions of readers," he said.

......"Al-Jazeera says its broadcasts are objective and contextualized, and that this is how the Arab world sees the war," said Samuel-Azran. "They say the difference between their broadcasting and the West's comes from a different cultural perspective. "But the American networks feel that Al-Jazeera is more like Fox, pushing a specific perspective," he explains. But what may be true for the mainstream networks is not so in the alternative media.

"There is a kind of connection or coalition developing between alternative media in the West and the large Arab networks," Samuel-Azran found. "It's born of necessity. "Indymedia, for example, has the Western audience with a hunger for information, but can't reach the places where events are happening or broadcast them in a professional way," he explained. "Al-Jazeera, on the other hand, has the reach and the resources, but can't get a Western audience for its product through most of the mainstream media.

"Al Jazeera hasn't planned this influence," he said. Rather, "it's created by a hunger in some parts of the West for this information, particularly in countries such as Australia and Britain where Al-Jazeera is seen in a better light than in the US." Even in the US, sites like DailyKos and the US government-funded function as part of this connection. On general forums at the site, Samuel-Azran located photos from Al-Jazeera uploaded by teenagers as part of discussions about the region. "Once Al-Jazeera photos were shown there, other members of the forums started to ask why they didn't see these pictures on CNN," he says.

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