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Bad News

I can’t find an American news network that has worldwide coverage even close to matching Aljazeera’s.  I watched the main news summaries on several American morning shows – Morning Joe, Good Morning America, CBS Morning.  None of them mentioned the fact that VP Joe Biden is in Ukraine.  Even if he is not doing much, he presence is news, especially his helping President Poroshenko mark the one year anniversary of the protests that ousted Putin buddy President Yanukovych.  I thought that Charlie Rose was going to add some substance to the CBS morning show, but he hasn’t added much.  Nevertheless, I think it has somewhat better news coverage than ABC or NBC. 
Recently Aljazeera has had good environmental reports on the plight of elephants and rhinos in Africa.  I haven’t heard the US networks mention that, although the NYT has covered the environmental group’s report that was the basis of the elephant story. 
Aljazeera reporting on the Middle East is extensive, but probably questionable because of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Muslim movements.  However, it seems to be making an effort to be balanced.  On its main nightly news show John Seigenthaler recently interviewed a Jewish correspondent about the situation in Jerusalem.  I worry that American newsrooms are dominated by Jews, who may skew their news coverage on the Middle East in an anti-Muslim direction. 
Mainly, the American networks no longer have correspondents stationed around the world as Aljazeera does.  The networks have a few foreign correspondents that they fly around to wherever the hotspots are, but they don’t have correspondents on the ground who have some personal information about the situation.  By and large, the American network guys and girls just stand in front of some local landmark and report what they have gotten from a recent press briefing.  Each American network has one or two correspondents who spend lots of time in the Middle East (e.g., Richard Engel), but Aljazeera appears to have dozens who go places the Americans never visit.  Martha Raddatz used to be very good on covering the military in the Iran and Afghan wars, but since the wars have wound down and she has lost her military contacts, she seems to be relegated to the same rote reports as the other correspondents. 
I don’t watch CNN much anymore because it just seems to have pundits and talking heads arguing about news that somebody else reports.  Aljazeera is what CNN used to be before it self-destructed. 

The American network morning shows always have lots of reports on the weather.  I think it is because weather is easy to do.  They just send some reporter to stand in the wind, the rain, or the snow, and talk about how bad it is.  If they are really lazy, they just use a local reporter rather than sending a national one.  They know Americans probably care more about the weather than about foreign affairs or the economy.  CNBC and Bloomberg do a fair job of reporting on the economy, but the evening and morning news tend to concentrate on easy topics, like the price of gas.

The one American news show that matches or exceeds Aljazeera is the PBS News Hour.  Although it does not have its own overseas correspondents, it uses ITN’s.  It covers international and economic news much better than the commercial networks.  Margaret Warner’s coverage of international issues is superb.  She travels frequently, and when she does, she interviews senior news makers, rather than just reporting press conferences.  

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