Skip to main content

Okay, I'm venturing all the best superlatives here. Because you need to see something, and it's something that, in and of itself, deserves high praise for quality and content.

Aljazeera America

Aljazeera America: Catching a Falling Star—Larry Wines

We're talking about the absolute best 24/7 cable news channel ever. And it signs-off forever Tuesday night at 9 PM Pacific time.

In the brief two-and-a-half years of its existence, it has produced more top journalism award-winning original programs than everybody else, combined.

It's AlJazeera America. In the brief two-and-a-half years of its existence, it has produced more original programming that has won top journalism awards than everybody else, combined.

And the thing is, you can't go watch a single one of them online at your leisure. The cable giants thoroughly screwed AJ by agreeing to carry it only if they, cable, were the exclusive place to see any of AJ's video content.

Please permit me to advise you, and in the strongest terms:

Whatever video recording capacity you have available? Devote it all to AlJazeera America between right now and 9 PM Tuesday, when it goes off the air.

Then, any time you think anybody else on tv is any good, go spin a few minutes from your cache of extinct AJ and you'll know.

I did a lengthy story back in January when the coming demise of AlJazeera was first announced. That story examines the reasons for it and assesses what we're losing as it goes off the air.

At the time, it immediately seemed foolish that I let that story get combined with what became the title: "7 Guaranteed Political Predictions for 2016."

Two things about that. One: I just re-read that piece and was surprised that all seven prognostications are still right on target (not that I'm bragging, because some of the predictions are rather depressing.)

And two: At the time, combining the two stories happened because, without AJ, it was screamingly evident there would be a lot less light and a lot more heat — make that fire, as in stinky dumpster (and Trumpster) fires — on cable tv's remaining "news" (supposedly news) channels. Well, here we are, and no one will argue that last part is certainly holding true.

Since we previously looked at all the factors, from money to reticent Americans suspicious of that Arabic-script logo, and all that is a click away, we won't repeat it now.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

But there is something left to say.

AJ, you made a difference far beyond the size of your viewing audience. There is no question the 2016 election would see some difference in its eventual outcome had your intelligent coverage continued. Because, AJ, your idea of election coverage was to keep all things in context, tempered by a balance of everything important happening in the world. And you provided the only thorough, inclusive, and truly balanced coverage on tv.

Even now, as AJ shows compilations of their very best, during these, their final hours on the air, they're still doing excellent newscasts of current developments. Tune it in while you still can. See for yourself. It's always been remarkable, and it's the last chance to see news without yelling, organ-grinders, and plate-spinners.

Some of what's being broadcast right now are award-winning gems. They're getting final re-airings as things that were; some things are still being reported as what is, now. Right to the end. In your best Huell Howser, give them a "That's Amaaazing!"

Environmental struggles. Impacts of technology on culture. Exported manufacturing. Lost career jobs and exactly what is replacing them. Refugee crises, in all their complex dimensions, made comprehensible. Conflict in the Middle East, why it keeps happening, isn't being reconciled, and what paths could be taken that are better. Why economics are the way they are, globally, hemispherically, nationally, and around the block. Haiti. Cuba. Paris. Brussels. Behind doors where things were happening or being prevented. Saving natural wonders, and appreciating ones you knew nothing about. Homelessness and poverty and racial issues and debt for average Americans. Pervasive things demanding we focus our fickle attention. The costs to all of us to pamper people of privilege. People facing loss and need. People of fortitude, coming back from nothing. Explorations of humanity equal to those of PBS's "Frontline." Examinations of institutions — public, private, insufficiently known, exploitive, predatory, hidden — all received clear-eyed and thorough reporting. Always. There should be a song. More than one song. If Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger were still with us, there'd have been a song.

AJ, you showed us and your brobdingnagian competition just how insufferably, parochially, claustrophobically, endlessly bloviating, prone to single-focus fixation, ethnocentrically intramural all the rest of cable's guardians of "news" are. That, alone, was an unintended public service you have performed, if we are awake enough to seize your example.

Al Jazeera America, you were the best. And not just compared to a bad lot that operates with carefully calculated corporate agendas and a default mechanism that defers to the sensational, the salacious and titillating. You were the best, AJ, because you began from the premise of "get it right and do it right." Because the rules you set for yourselves began with choosing real news as the story, then reporting on the facts and the people who comprise the stories — cognizant you were the first draft of history, and humanity warranted fairness and the truth.

Sadly, the best doesn't always endure. But its influence can. In journalism classrooms everywhere, your programs that won those Peabody, Edward R. Murrow, and DuPont Awards will be shown, critiqued, discussed, and cited as examples for years to come. All from your scant two-and-a-half years on-air. And each time, the ghost of Bobby Kennedy will echo his words, "I dream things that never were, and ask why not?"

You set a standard that will attain mythological proportions as time goes by.

Finally, we hope the formidable talents of your staff will find fresh endeavors they appreciate. With journeys to places where they find that any colleagues already there will welcome them, and are deserving enough to appreciate them. In places where they can discover and explore raging rapids or create ripples in ponds that have become stagnant. Places where the commitment to quality represented in accomplishments is properly regarded.

Find safe landings. Because in this crazy, turbulent world threatened by plutocratic rule and climate change catastrophe, all of us need to see, and be influenced by, your work. For a long time to come.

larry-wines-175x227

And so, goodbye, AJ. We hardly knew ye.

Larry Wines