Al Jazeera reception less than Golden in Colorado
DENVER – The English-language channel of the Arabic news network Al Jazeera is getting a Colorado reception as frosty as a cold Coors Light.
Al Jazeera English is broadcasting from Golden, Colo., home of the Coors Brewing Company , as part of its coverage of the Democratic National Convention, as well as from the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field.
The broadcasts from small-town Colorado are intended to show their international audience a slice of Americana, according to political program editor Julian Ingle. Only one satellite provider and a handful of cable companies carry Al Jazeera English in the United States, but the network is available in 120 million homes in 80 countries.
“We’re doing something that no international network has done before,” Ingle said.
But residents of Golden weren’t quite as happy with their visitors. A handful said welcoming the station, known for airing Osama bin Laden’s video messages, was offensive to U.S. veterans.
“It’s a wrong association, it’s a misconception,” Ingle said, pointing out that many major media outlets broadcast bin Laden’s messages.
A recent Golden city council meeting drew about twenty people who discussed Al Jazeera English’s coverage.
“It was pretty fairly balanced across the board, people in favor of them coming and people who weren’t,” said Golden communications manager Sabrina D’Agosta.
In the end, the council did not ask the station to change its plans. “It is not for government to tell them that they can’t come, for us to deny them of their constitutional rights,” D’Agosta said.
But critics did win another battle: Golden City Manager Mike Bestor withdrew an invitation for the network to broadcast from his backyard barbecue.
— Reporting by Shannon Bond and Beth Marlowe, recent graduates of the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, who are interning for Reuters at the Democratic National Convetion.
Photo: A tourist listens to a tour guide speak about beer at the Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado October 16, 2007. REUTERS/Rick Wilking