The week of Sept. 11 is always a reflective time for me.
Being a third grader at the time prevented me from fully understanding both the tremendous loss and the global ramifications of the attack. As the years passed I have learned about the reasons for the attack, but I still have trouble comprehending just how impactful 9/11 was for both Americans and the international community.
Being a Millennial and growing up in a post-9/11 era has had a significant impact on my world view. Our generation is hailed for being more tolerant and open to new things than those before us. The Pew Research Center describes us as "confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change." This open-minded ideology is a key part of how our generation will shape the world in the coming years.
One of the best and most important ways to stay open-minded is to consider alternative news sources. For those of you who also grow weary of faux news and CNN, Al Jazeera America may serve as a refreshing alternative. Al Jazeera America is the first English news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East – Qatar, to be specific – and represents a style of news that may cause apprehension for some Americans.
The goal of Al Jazeera America has been expressed as "to give voice to untold stories, promote debate and challenge established perceptions."
The idea of an American news channel centered in the Middle East is undoubtedly a groundbreaking development in the media industry, and with that comes certain challenges. An NPR story from Aug. 16 featured the title, "Al Jazeera America Will Have To Work Hard to Win Viewers." Many Americans are skeptical or even hostile about the idea of a news channel centered in Qatar.
An experiment done by Al Jazeera America reflected that when the show was played without the name, the participants gave great feedback. The name, however, is unfamiliar to many Americans and – for some – brings to mind perceptions of a radical Islamist agenda and influence from the government in Qatar.
Kate O'Brien, a former ABC news employee, is now the president of Al Jazeera America and insists that the channel will not be influenced by any ulterior political agenda.
"I frankly wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that this is an editorially independent media company and channel" O'Brien told NPR. "I don't think the director general and the board would have asked me to join had they not respected editorial independence."
Al Jazeera has also been criticized for airing tapes made by Osama Bin Laden. Some interpreted it to mean that Al Jazeera was anti-America. Before getting worked up over Al Jazeera America, however, one must examine other instances of foreign-owned media that have successful.
A Saudi Prince owns the second largest amount of stock in the company News Corp., and the Washington Times was purchased by a powerful South Korean religious official, Sun Myung Moon, in 1982. News sources owned by different countries can be an uncomfortable phenomenon to come to terms with, but sometimes being a more enlightened global citizen requires some degree of discomfort. We may not like it, but it's indescribably important to consider concepts that remove us from our comfort zone. Watching news that's actually coming from the Middle East can be incredibly beneficial because it may help broaden your horizons and help you see things from a different perspective.
Since 9/11, I have learned that intolerance breeds hate, and hate breeds violence and terrorism. After all that has happened, it is difficult to deny our complex intertwining with the Middle East. The tension will not dissipate any time soon.
Now is the time to really make the effort to view the world from all points of view; this week is the time to reflect on the past 12 years and to ponder what we can do to increase cultural tolerance and eliminate xenophobia. I encourage everyone to consider this groundbreaking change in global media, even if the name makes you slightly uncomfortable.
Katie Dean is a junior in political science and psychology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.