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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 27, 2016

 

Primarily Al Jazeera

by Tom Sullivan


Al Jazeera America Digital takes a bow.

South Carolina Democrats hold their primary today. There were neither Bernie nor Hillary campaigners hanging around my Greenville, SC hotel like Ted Cruz supporters last week. It seems Clinton spent more of her time doing small-town, retail politics in downstate, rural areas where she has connections going back years. Sanders campaigned more via arena and college events and phone banks. There will be more to say after the hand-clapping and the shouting are over.

Al Jazeera America is going away soon and will be missed. Tony Karon posted a "valedictory note" about the service yesterday. A sample:

The core principle driving the journalism that distinguished Al Jazeera America online as a unique voice in a cluttered news landscape was the simple — yet radical — proposition that no single human life is worth less than any other.

Whether it was Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, teenage African-Americans killed in their prime; Syrian refugee child Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach; Palestinian baby Ali Dawabshe, who died in the flames of his firebombed home in a village under Israeli occupation; Nicaraguan peasant farmer Carlos Wilson Bilis contemplating the destruction of his livelihood by an epic canal project; or LeeAnne Walters raising the alarm over the poisoned water pouring from the taps in Flint, Michigan, their stories deserved to be told. Their names needed to be known and their voices heard. Their plight, like those of so many hundreds featured in our coverage, revealed the human impact of decisions made — or evaded — in the corridors of power.

And when ordinary people stood up and took action to transform their fates, we paid attention. Whether it was Priestess Bearstop and her struggle to steer clear of Minneapolis gang life or Pamela Dominguez and her Dreamer compañeros fighting for the dignity of citizenship or St. Louis fast-food worker Olivia Roffle organizing for a living wage or Mexican student Salvador Castro Fernandez and his friends searching for justice for their 43 Ayotzinapa classmates who went missing during a protest, we believed our readers needed to hear their voices.

The reporters who told those stories did us all a service, one that is increasingly difficult to sustain in the digital environment. The Internet was supposed to set us free (and in some ways has), but food and rent are not. Making any kind of living writing online is at best problematic. I haven't quit my day job. (Read that however you want.) Campaign staffers, too, know the way of the Ramen.

Best farewell cake of all time

A photo posted by atossaaraxia (@atossaaraxia) on

Speaking of that "cluttered news landscape," the trolls could not resist taking a jab at Al Jazeera on its way out the door.

So it goes.