By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik August 10, 2011 at 12:08PM
Who says long form journalism is dead?
Al Jazeera English, the Qatar-based Arab news service, is launching several English-language documentary programs, focusing on 9/11, modern slavery in the Unites States and the Chilean miner rescue, among others.
Despite right-wing attempts to demonize Al Jazeera, the channel provides alternative perspectives on news stories you won't find in the U.S. media, with many of its staffers being former employees of the BBC, CNN and Fox News, though I've heard the network's biases described as a kind of Fox News of the Arab world.
If its English programming seems to be more objective, The New York Times just reported that AJE had quashed several planned rebroadcasts of “Shouting in the Dark,” an hour-long documentary about Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that had its debut last week and brought complaints from Bahraini authorities. According to the Times, the decision raised concerns among Al Jazeera’s staff members that the channel was "succumbing to political or diplomatic pressure from Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia."
The channel's signature new doc series, called "The 9/11 Decade" -- premiering on August 30 -- will tell the inside story of the 21st century's most significant conflict in three one-hour documentaries: "The Intelligence War," "The Image War," and "The Clash of Civilizations?"
In a press release, Paul Eedle, Director of Programmes, Al Jazeera English, said, “We’ll be exposing some of the myths of the decade since 9/11. The series uncovers that al-Qaeda lost the intelligence war, rather than the CIA winning it; that al-Qaeda had a remarkably efficient propaganda machine but threw it all away; and that far from a war of civilizations between the West and Muslim extremists, we now have democratic uprisings across the Arab world."
The network will also show a series of docs reported by Al Jazeera correspondents, including "Chile Miners: Still Trapped," and other episodes about an Amazonian activist who knew he was going to be killed and later was murdered; a Nigerian World War II veteran who fought the Japanese in Burma; and the only international journalist to stay in Haiti for the year after their devastating earthquake.
"Sold Into Slavery: A 21st Century Evil," presented by Somali-born British journalist Rageh Omaar, uncovers the largest ever case of human trafficking, where slaves from Thailand are sold to commercial farms in the United States. The seven 30-minute and one 60-minute episodes begin on October 10.
All three series, "The 9/11 Decade," "Al Jazeera Correspondent" and "Sold Into Slavery" were executive produced for Al Jazeera by Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA winner Jon Blair ("Anne Frank Remembered")
Here's a promo: