Al Jazeera English

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Al Jazeera memo illustrates the importance of word choice

I’ve spent a lot of time and space over the last decade thinking and writing about political language, propaganda, censorship, and banned and taboo words. Every time the language wars begin heating up (illegal alien vs. undocumented worker), I find myself reverting to a set of first principles:

  1. What is the literal meaning of the questionable word or phrase?
  2. Does that word or phrase have any connotations, that is, associations that are positive or negative?
  3. How does the word correspond to what is actually happening on the ground?
  4. What group (sometimes called a “discourse community”) favors one locution over another, and why?
  5. Is the word or phrase “loaded”?  How far does it steer us from neutral?
  6. Does the word or phrase help me see, or does it prevent me from seeing?
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Are foreign correspondents like Colvin and Shadid a vanishing breed?

Mashable
Overnight, there were reports of the deaths of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in Homs, Syria. The correspondents were reporting in extremely hostile territory: “It’s too much of a coincidence,” the New York Times reported a Syrian activist in Cairo saying. “There are reports of planes flying around and they may be looking for the satellite uplinks.”

As foreign bureaus get rarer, people intent on covering conflicts now often have to lean on the crowd rather than the soft bosom of a wealthy journalistic institution. Read more

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Al Jazeera English opens new bureau in Chicago

Al Jazeera English
The bureau — which opens next month — is Al Jazeera English’s fifth in the U.S. It will be staffed by John Hendren, formerly with ABC News in Washington, D.C., who starts today. The network says it’s ramping up its U.S. coverage for the 2012 elections. Read more

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Parvaz: ‘I was treated with respect, courtesy and care’

Al Jazeera English
“Although I have written critically of some of Iran’s policies, I was treated with respect, courtesy and care thoughout my detention there,” writes Al Jazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz, who was freed Tuesday after being detained in Syria and Iran for weeks.

My room was spotless, my interrogator flawlessly polite, and the women who looked after me at the Evin Prison Women’s Detention Centre saw to it that my every need was met – especially the sleeping pills I required, because every night, without fail, I would hear the cries of men screaming in Syria “Wallahi! Wallahi!” and wonder how their wounds will ever heal.

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Columbia j-school’s highest honor goes to Al Jazeera English

Romenesko Misc.
The Columbia Journalism Award is given annually during the school’s commencement ceremony to recognize an individual or organization for “singular journalism in the public interest.” Dean Nicholas Lemann says: “Al Jazeera English has performed a great service in bringing the English-speaking world in-depth coverage of the turmoil in the Middle East. We salute its determination to get to the heart of a complicated story unfolding in countries where news has historically been difficult to cover.” Read more

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