journalism

Fars News Agency, the state-run Iranian news outlet famous for picking up an Onion story and presenting it as news, has apparently decided that plagiarizing satirical articles isn't brazen enough. On Thursday, the news agency's editors reprinted a Foreign Policy article on the debate over chemical weapons in Syria.

When one of South Africa’s biggest newspaper chains was sold last month, an odd name was buried in the list of new owners: China International Television Corp. A major stake in a South African newspaper group might seem an unusual acquisition for Chinese state television, but it was no mystery to anyone who has watched the rapid expansion of China’s media empire across Africa.

My heart is in my throat. I haven't taken a full breath for 24 hours. On the horizon is the sight I'd been hoping to avoid: black flags and men in smocks with AK-47s slung casually over their shoulders—which means a checkpoint manned by jihadist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a.k.a. ISIS, a.k.a. the latest and most feared incarnation of al-Qaeda in Syria.

Six years of unremitting headlines on extreme violence and rampant crime has sullied Mexico’s reputation abroad. Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and his confrontational “War on Drugs” grew increasingly unpopular over the years, resulting in the 2012 election of opposition party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who espoused a new security strategy and vision for Mexico.

Al-Jazeera and America, two name brands often at odds since 9/11, were wed as one on Tuesday (Aug. 20) when the Qatar-based media network began broadcasting its U.S. news channel Al-Jazeera America from New York. This is not the first time Al-Jazeera has tried to find a home on American TV. Al-Jazeera English debuted with an international focus in 2006 but was never picked up in major media markets outside the Northeast.

You have to give Al Jazeera America major points for chutzpah. In the face of fears that its parent company is essentially anti-America, it launched its new network with a tear-down of the American television news media. Its Tuesday premiere on the network formally known as Current TV opened with an hour dedicated to Al Jazeera America's mission statement: Offer an intelligent, unbiased, wide-reaching alternative to the broken and pitted mess that is currently in place.

Neither Al Jazeera English nor the Arabic network have a full-time ombudsperson, such as the CBC’s standards editor or the New York Times’s public editor Margaret Sullivan. For its part, Al Jazeera America has made copious public announcements about glitzy hires but has hired no full-time audience advocate. Al Jazeera America needn’t feel sheepish; Fox and MSNBC have no ombuds listed among their editorial staffs, and neither responded to calls and emails as of this writing.

Ecuador’s combative president is threatening to try to force the country’s newspapers to go all-digital as a way to save paper. Rafael Correa has long had a prickly relationship with Ecuador’s opposition-owned newspapers, and his Twitter statement Monday is a jab at papers backing a proposed referendum to block oil exploration in the pristine Yasuni national park.

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