A very important change for me, since I moved to Holland, is how I get my news: of course I have access to italian media (of the digital variety), and sometimes I do check on the fate of my former compatriots. Dutch news in english are hard to come by, and even harder to understand: the quirks of dutch politics still escape me, although I’ll have to try again – they want me to vote already (in march, for local elections). But of course, if I’m looking for real time international news, then tv becomes useful.
Like most dutch people who own a television (not exactly 100% of the population, considering that you can get monster internet), we have a cable contract (web + phone + internet). We opted for the “basic cable” tv bundle (but we got a 120mbps connection, plus a Netflix subscription). Among the many useless (or involuntarily entertaining) channels, there are several news stations in english: CNN, BBC world, Sky news, Euronews, the frightening Russian (RT) and Chinese (CCTV) state news outlets, and Al Jazeera.
Of all these, the latter is by far my favorite. Their style is similar to everyone else’s, and so are their programs. Even the anchors look the same. The difference is simple, but valuable: unlike its western counterparts, Al Jazeera seems to understand the opinions of Muslims, both living in the “east” and in the “west”. I was born on the Mediterranean, a sea that touches both cultures, so my point of view is often somewhere in between. I understand what westerners say, but I can also relate to the feelings of people from other cultures – just on the other side of the pond. At the moment, there is much talk all over the news about the young muslims raised in Europe that move to Syria, to fight with the Islamic State (I’m writing something on this myself). I believe this is an crucial issue, because it questions the way we europeans dealt with these young men and women, with their parents and their culture.
I think that in 2015 the whole world is “the new world” of the past, and that the forces that shaped the new world back then are at work right now, to shape much of the rest. Some of these forces are interesting (there isn’t just poverty behind migration, but very often also a drive to grow and change), others – like racism or paternalism, or killing everybody, are just wrong. It isn’t easy to keep the distance from both extremes, to try and see both sides. I’ve been trying for a while: Al Jazeera certainly helps much more than CNN or the BBC (Full disclosure: I really miss Fox news, but not for news reliability).