NASHVILLE -- Al Jazeera America’s decision to put a bureau in Nashville demonstrates the network's commitment to underreported stories and points of view. The truth is, for its geographical size, the South is not well represented in the mainstream U.S. media. No other major network has a bureau in Nashville. But Al Jazeera America chose to be here, rather than down with the Big Boys in Atlanta, which makes plenty of rural areas infinitely more accessible. Al Jazeera America even put Southerners in charge of the bureau, which alone demonstrates the network’s respect for the cultural sensitivities of our complex region.
Whether they want Al Jazeera America to succeed or fail, plenty of people are paying attention and this is why. The Nashville bureau is a reflection of the network’s commitment to investigative journalism and underreported viewpoints.
As a producer, I can say I would like our bureau to tell all of the South's stories. Many of them have their roots in the legacy of slavery and relationships between southerners of African and Caucasian descent. There is still much history (some not so long ago) that needs to be examined and resolved. Al Jazeera America Nashville will do work that helps facilitate that resolution and informs the public about the truth of Southern culture and Southern history.
This includes making a space for focus on the first Southerners, the American Indian nations. These communities are alive and well today, and are an integral part of the fabric of the modern South.
Immigrant communities also make up who we are, and there is so much more to those stories than the legislative fight over green cards and amnesty. The Southeast is now home to – and heavily reliant upon – immigrants from the entire expanse of the American continent. There are also Somalis, Ethiopians, Vietnamese, Indians … the list goes on and on. All of these communities make up the modern South, even if they don't fall into the traditional Southern archetype, and telling these stories is a part of the Nashville bureau's responsibility.
It's our job. As journalists and as the "Fourth Estate" we are supposed to tell people what is going on in the world, so they can make informed decisions and democracy can function the way it is supposed to. Journalists are here to accurately reflect the world we live in – even if some of it is inconvenient or difficult. There are many people in the United States who want their news to dig a little deeper, and will watch programming that could be considered "in-depth" or even – gasp! – complicated.
And there's more. There's always more. Some of the greatest ideological questions facing the United States are playing out in a thousand different ways – questions of equality, economic, physical and environmental health, management of natural resources, the role of government, maintenance of infrastructure, satisfying our energy needs – and debates over all these issues are happening right here. Al Jazeera America’s Nashville bureau is here to report on all these matters in an informative, responsible and (hopefully) interesting way.
-- Kim Hutcherson,
Al Jazeera America Nashville producer