11/23/2006

Television in Britain

So, I'm watching television in the Peterson's apartment. At the moment, I'm watching Al Jazeera in English. It's really good, at the moment. To be honest, I don't watch much television news, but I think because the news channels in the U.S. seem to treat international news like it is something that happens in 80 second increments. In fact, I just watched a segment on Fox News (it's over here, too, as is CBS News and CNBC and likely others) that was actually called "Around the World in 80 Seconds" and all of the news focused on light, fluffy pieces.

New Dehli TV, on the other hand, covered today's bombing in Sadr City with a graphic quality CNN isn't going to touch. Bodies being pulled from scorched minivans. What aren't we watching? What aren't we getting?

Now, I've got the Chinese channel on, in English, but I'm not really watching. As a journalist, I'm feeling much better about the trade, because everything I've watched in the past hour seems to be incredibly thoughtful, balanced, and not at all propaganda. Except for FOX News, which seems to think the world can be explained in 80 seconds.

The best bit so far was watching NDTV, which was telling me all about a water fight going on in India. The Indian Supreme Court just upheld a law that is pushing for a certain resevoir to be raised eight feet, which will flood several villages in Kerala. The local government is refusing to implement this new rule. Shouldn't we have some sense of what's going on out there? These local disputes are happening all over the world. I've never even heard of Kerala, nor any of the other cities that scrolled across the screen as I learned about the weather.

This is an amazing planet. Sometimes it takes getting outside of the United States to remember this. The guy next to me on the plane was heading to Andalusia for nine days to rest. London is filled with people from all over. They're not all evil. If there was some way of taking a gigantic poll of the world's citizens, you'd find that most people want the same basic things in life.

Yes, I know the argument - Americans are too busy to care about what happens in Kerala, Katmandu, or some other obscure place beginning with an N. But, that argument just sucks. I'm in no condition at the moment to really put forth an argument for why we should pay more attention to the world (thanks, John Smith Bitter!) but, like a guy who sits in his basement all day, we really need to get out more.

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