EVEN REGULAR viewers of the network news can be forgiven for mixing up Tom Rather with Dan Brokaw?or is it Peter Brokaw? And cable broadcasters, with the exception of the right-wing Fox network, aren?t much different. They serve up mostly a bland menu of homogenous infotainment for their affluent viewers and advertisers. But two new digital television networks could help break the monotony.
?People need alternatives to get the news out, and to receive the news,? says Peter Armstrong, a 20-year veteran of the BBC who helped launch OneWorld TV, a membership-based digital network spanning more than 40 countries. Created in 2002 as a Web-based network of 1,250 nongovernment organizations concerned with human rights and sustainable development, One World links to a global news force of reporters and producers that covers everything from child gold miners in Burkina Faso to the latest on climate change. A collaborative broadcast venture, the OneWorld network invites participants to add footage to existing stories on various topics from around the world.
?Think of it in terms of Scrabble,? says Armstrong. ?You can add on to what others have done.?
San Francisco?based WorldLink TV is also using digital technology to tell stories you won?t see or hear on the evening news. Their mission is to connect American viewers with people at the center of current world events. Mosaic, for instance, is a poignant compilation of news highlights from 13 Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.
?We feel we are telling a counter-narrative to what Americans are bombarded with,? WorldLink?s David Michaelis has said, ?thus exposing viewers to a powerful alternative interpretation of . . . political and cultural affairs.?
None of this would be possible without satellites, fiber optics, and an advanced digital technology that can deliver programming from anywhere in the world to your TV or PC. Or without a network of willing reporters and producers with video cameras, Internet access, and an eye for a great story.
WorldLink and OneWorld TV also rely on viewer contributions, member fees, and foundation grants, so advertisers can?t interfere with news coverage. These fledgling networks won?t be replacing Dan Jennings anytime soon, but they are working toward dethroning the traditional journalistic gatekeepers and offering viewers new options in their search for different perspectives on the world.