The latest escalation of violence in the Middle East hit Randa Masri hard. Her two children, ages 12 and 15, were visiting their grandfather in Tripoli, Lebanon, and she anxiously snapped on the television news to see where the bombs were falling.
But she didn't watch only CNN. She also turned to the controversial al-Jazeera network and two Lebanese stations piped into her Pembroke Pines home via a satellite dish. On them, she saw the destruction by Israeli bombs close up, street by street.
Masri's impulse is shared by many Arab-Americans who say relying on U.S. media alone would not give them a clear picture of the turmoil. Some seek balance with al-Jazeera, which plans to launch a worldwide, English-language service later this year. Others check the Web sites of Arab newspapers or parallel English-language sites.
"The American media is a little more in favor of the Israeli side," said Masri, who also grew up in Tripoli, and whose children will arrive home Thursday. "People want to see the other side."
Lynda Sabga, who fled Beirut last week and is staying with her parents in Boca Raton, was more critical. She said she does not watch CNN or any other American network. Instead, Sabga, an American citizen of Lebanese descent, has clicked on naharnet.com, the English-language Web site of her favorite Lebanese newspaper, An-Nahar.
"CNN gives the side of the story they want us to believe in this country," she said, although she gave high marks to the same network's international service. "Some Lebanese were against what Hezbollah did with the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers, and the constant aggression against Israel. CNN never speaks of that."