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   uses for absolute rule
Sunday, January 30 2011
American journalism is in a sorry state after years of consolidation and cost-savings, all undertaken in an attempt to make revenues "grow," since, as with cancer cells, growth is the only thing that capitalism really cares about. So, predictably, when a revolution started in Egypt last week, American journalism was completely unprepared. They've been forced to mine Al Jazeera and YouTube for the content that their audiences want to see. As for Al Jazeera itself, in the United States its brand is still unfairly associated with "the bad guys" in the Middle East, largely a hangover from the widespread mislabeling of the Bush-Cheney years. Consequently, Al Jazeera is barely carried at all by American cable and satellite providers. Fortunately, it's easy to get to via the web, where the Egypt coverage has been compelling. I found myself watching it for awhile tonight.
Knowing how many other Americans are turning to Al Jazeera online, the live feed is amazingly smooth. Also interesting are the panning shots of the Al Jazeera studios. This is clearly not a news organization that has been told to cut costs so that revenues may somehow begin to grow. Capitalism works for some things, but it's a poisonous environment for journalism. So who pays for Al Jazeera? It seems it's run as a side project of the government of Qatar, without evident editorial interference. But why? No one can say. Qatar is run by an absolute monarchy, and dictatorial powers can either lead to spectacular evil (since they can be exercised without deference to rational outsiders) or phenomenal good (since they can be exercised without deference to irrational outsiders).

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