Yep. It’s an Arabic-named media company, owned by an Arab government and headquartered in the Middle East – Qatar.
I read the website daily, check its app on my iPhone throughout the day and follow it on Twitter. I think it’s one of the more reliable and insightful sources of information. And I’m a deep-water Baptist living in America.

Mostly, I read Al Jazeera for global news. But sometimes I find nuggets about American culture that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

One example was a news story about how the funeral home industry is having to accommodate America’s obesity epidemic.

Many readers are aware of the spreading obesity in the land of the plenty.

Airline travelers have first-hand experiences with shrinking space. Health care providers know too well the real threats and increasing costs.

Yet how many of us connect obesity to increased casket sizes and funeral home expenses?

While its news coverage is timely, its opinion pieces add depth to one’s understanding of complex situations.

Such an example was a highly insightful column that challenged the easy-to-understand Muslim-versus-Christian narrative that has emerged in the mainstream Western press about the crisis in the Central African Republic.

The problem with that narrative is that it is incomplete, even misleading.

Western media stories that focused on Muslim forces killing Christians and Christian militias killing Muslims played nicely into our African stereotypes, shallow historical awareness and religious prejudice.

“The problem is that these stories risk fueling sectarian violence in a country where, historically, Muslims and Christians have coexisted in relative peace. They also obscure the underlying causes of multiple, overlapping conflicts and their solutions. Ending the ‘religious’ fighting is a minor part of any strategy that would create long-term stability in the CAR,” the column pointed out.

Maybe I missed this needed clarification in American news outlets, although I doubt it.

In a media-saturated, global culture, Al Jazeera stands out with straight-forward news stories and challenging opinion pieces – pieces missing in many American newspapers fixated on bickering, partisan politics and who is running for president of the United States in 2016.

Al Jazeera, an Arabic word for “the island,” is not the only media source upon which I rely each day.

It is, nonetheless, an informative isle in what seems like a collapsing U.S. newspaper industry and an increasing polarizing – and often vulgar – cable-TV talk show market.

Other information islands are the BBC News and Associated Press websites. I check both each morning and, via their apps, throughout the day for helpful, timely, domestic and global reports.

Reliable news outlets checked with regularity are Reuters, Sky News and United Press International (UPI).

Add to these a dozen web-based newspapers, U.S. papers, a British paper or two, one in Canada, another in Australia and even outlets in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Abu Dhabi. Christian Science Monitor gets a daily click and scroll.

Of course, I look at a number of religious outlets and special interest websites.

What I’m experiencing with media/information outlets is what was predicted to happen. I’m accessing more news and opinion via apps than traditional websites.

What I didn’t expect is the role of Twitter in drawing my attention to articles.

I follow on Twitter a number of news sources, trusted reporters, relevant organizations and individuals – around the world. Their tweets deliver information faster and more directly than traditional websites and with more first-hand texture.

If Christians are people of the truth, then we need to keep informed, be on guard about the half-truths embedded in ideologies and political parties and remain mindful that narratives are more complex than the simplicity too often conveyed. One practical way to do so is to have multiple sources of news and information.

Christian faith calls this practicing discernment.

Robert Parham is executive editor of and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.

Editor’s Note: has a mobile site that can be download to your mobile device. To learn more about the mobile app, click here. To watch a tutorial explaining the mobile site, click here and advance to the 4:10 time mark.

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