Charles Kader: Television networks still lacking in Indian coverage

A screenshot of the Indian Country section on the Al Jazeera America website.

Charles Kader, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, laments the loss of Al Jazeera America, a television network that focused on stories in Indian Country that are often ignored by the mainstream media:
The coverage of Native American issues by Al Jazeera America brought the television network attention where it had hardly any competition. These stories often had a gritty feel to them, and may have sometimes reflected the tenor of a bygone age, like Cold War era news coverage did. By backlighting the shrouded depths of the U.S. government’s stewardship of Indian Country today, the failures of American domestic policy were regular fare. Mainstream American viewers enjoy the occasional expose of U.S. government excesses, but the general indifference to North American history shows itself when such contemporary news coverage is more widely or regularly offered. It gets ignored.

“Make you feel bad while you watch it” video programming also has established structural limits associated with it. Take the high road and only focus on the beaming achievements of a culture is one variant, which can mention the low points without hovering over them. Or go all-out in wallowing in the poverty porn depiction and shoving the failure message down the throats of anyone still tuning in by the end of the telecast. There is not a lot of grey area between these formulas and that says a lot for any “up n comer” straight news networks in the future. The burgeoning All Nations Network associated with the Canadian news broadcaster APTN might suffer in gaining industry traction amidst this outcome.

Al Jazeera America had no control over the world demand for or the pricing of crude oil sales, which subsidized the network operations for possibly the entire three year run. Yet the stain of an empty screen that has gone black is not the end. Going forward it will live on as an online news presence, fighting the good fight once again and forever.

Get the Story:
Charles Kader: Al Jazeera America Strove For Journalistic Lightness of Being, Was Darkened by Market Economics (Indian Country Today 4/20)

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