Witness Al Jazeera English’s latest U.S. move
Al Jazeera English, part of the international Al Jazeera Arabic-language news network, hasn’t had it too easy in the United States, where it has encountered suspicion for being — in a word — Arabic.
Now, in a bid to increase its presence in more U.S. homes and show Americans what the network is really all about, the service will distribute its half-hour documentary series Witness through a deal with Link TV. According to the press release, that will make Witness available in more than 30 million U.S. homes via cable and satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.
Here is Witness in Al Jazeera’s own words:
Hosted by Rageh Omar, Witness is a half hour documentary program that brings world issues into focus through courageous, human stories and provocative debate. Each documentary reveals the unknown lives of ordinary people, telling their stories and portraying the challenges that confront them.
Here are two recent examples from the website:
‘Another Road Home’ is the simple and heart-rending story about a young Israeli woman’s search for the man who helped bring her up as a baby. But because the man is Palestinian it becomes a drama of international proportions. Borders have to be negotiated, history re-interpreted, but most importantly, both sides have to sit down and talk. It’s an intensely personal story that proves love can transcend even the most bitter, political conflicts.
The Olive branch is a universal symbol of peace – but that hasn’t stopped it becoming a victim of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli Army has uprooted nearly half a million trees – some of them dating back to Roman times. What’s not in doubt is the personal tragedy this leaves in its wake. Palestinian land owner Sharif Khalid travels over three days to get to the Witness studio to explain to Rageh Omaar why he chooses to sleep in his shed.
And here is Kim Spencer at Link TV explaining why they’re carrying the show: “Witness is a thoughtful, well-produced international documentary series that we think will surprise many viewers who may have preconceived notions about Al-Jazeera English based on the media hype they’ve seen.”
(Photo of Rageh Omar: Reuters)