Very interesting point made by Abu Aardvark, a good blog to read to see what goes on in the Arab world and media. He is talking about the death of the King:
Ugh. I'm feeling a bit ill. Today is not a good day for the Arab media. Interestingly enough, the "independent" TV station al-Arabiya (which has the King as the first, second, third, and fourth story this morning) received thousands of messages of condolence for the passing of King Fahd. Kind of odd for an independent station, huh? And then they ran a story congratulating themselves for receiving all those messages... even odder! Not that the other Arab TV stations are much better... one columnist in al-Quds al-Arabi describes the Arab TV coverage as a procession of wailing infants. The same columnist noticed that LBC TV had the exact same Shaykh reading the exact same Quranic verses as on Saudi TV...
Thank the gods for al-Jazeera, today. Their lead: "Intense security arrangements for the funeral of King Fahd." They do have some stories noting the world's mourning, but it's treated as a news story, not as a Reaganesque burlesque. The death of John Garang in the Sudan - which has already led to fierce rioting, and which could potentially bring about the collapse of the hard-won peace accord - continues to receive equal billing. Same thing in al-Quds al-Arabi: Fahd's death is covered, but the Sudan gets top billing.
The real important thing about al-Jazeera is that it is an independent media operation. It isn't owned by the government like all these other Arab News operations are. al-Jazeera has come in for its share of critisism, but if we really want democratic reforms we need an independent Arab media and an independent Arab media is going to very criticial of the US government. Thats the trade off in all of this and one that the Bush Administration just will not face.