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February 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Al-Jazeera continued non-stop broadcasting out of Egypt on Monday even as Egyptian authorities made what appeared to be clumsy moves to shut it down. The government has blocked entrance to the Arab news network’s offices in Cairo, arrested at least two of its news crews then released them after confiscating their equipment. And while all Internet service providers have been shut down in the country, including those serving the banking industry and the stock exchange, al-Jazeera’s English-language network, which is unavailable on U.S. cable systems except for a handful of markets, is drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers to its website at (Its live stream has been accessed 1.6 million times by Americans since Friday.) There, its reporters, many of them apparently Arab-Americans, are demonstrating skill and erudition transcending their counterparts on U.S. broadcast and cable news networks and are often — strikingly — filing far more substantial reports than those being presented by the so-called mainstream media. Indeed, the New York Times reported today (Tuesday) that the White House has turned to al-Jazeera English to monitor the events in Egypt. Today’s Wall Street Journal suggested that the al-Jazeera coverage has been so impressive that U.S. cable companies may reconsider their longtime exclusion of the network. It quoted a Verizon spokeswoman as saying the the company is continuing to “evaluate additions” and a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman as saying that the company is “willing to talk” to al-Jazeera. “I sincerely hope now is the turning point,” Al Anstey, managing director of al-Jazeera English, told the New York Times. On his website, Jeff Jarvis, who has blogged about Internet journalism since the inception of blogs, commented on his site on Monday: “What the [first] Gulf War was to CNN, the people’s revolutions of the Middle East are to Al Jazeera English.” Later, in an interview with the New York Post, he added, “In the past there was prejudice against it. … Now there’s going to be demand.”