Archive for the Al Jazeera Category

Network on Network Violence?

Posted in Al Jazeera, CNN on April 7, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera’s Senior Political Analyst Marwan Bishara writes about CNN’s MH370 obsession…

When it became known that all 239 passengers are believed dead, CNN didn’t lower the flag and didn’t lower its guard. Its top guns continued to lead, soliciting experts’ opinions, conducting flight simulations, deciphering satellite imagery – anything to keep its viewers glued to their TV sets.

And it has been widely ridiculed for it. But before you laugh, it’s worth considering if CNN is onto something here. At least commercially.

According to the rating group Nielsen, CNN’s viewership in the weeks after the plane went missing was up 84 percent. (During that same period, Fox News has seen an uptick of only two percent, while MSNBC is down 11 percent.)

So what is the vanguard of cable news up to? Is this a watershed moment in its short history similar to the iconic live coverage of the US bombings at the break of the first Iraq in 1991, with Peter Arnett reporting: “The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated”?

Is it a coverage by default or by design? The culmination of calculated strategy to steer the network away from hard news? Many questions beg for answers.

We’ll skip the questions and answers and head straight to the end…

And it’s working. It’s wreaking havoc in the ratings, attracting advertisers and dollars. But how does this new media strategy by Zucker & Co affect journalism? It’s one thing to expand the definition of news; but it’s another thing to transform (deform?) journalism.

Perhaps the most intriguing, not to say annoying thing about the whole affair, is what appears to be CNN journalists’ acquiescence to the new marching orders. I mean, it’s not like they all wake up every morning thinking: I must cover the Malaysia Airlines story today any which way and try my best to ignore the rest of the world.

These seasoned journalists know all too well, that “Malaysia, Truly Asia” is only a slogan used by Malaysia Tourism. They know that there’s a whole world beyond Malaysia, a world full of tragedies and mysteries to report.

Ouch. Network on Network violence is never pretty. But at the same time there’s also this…

PS, I/we are indebted to those in CNN and other networks who’ve taken the time to show solidarity with our imprisoned colleagues in Egypt.

At the bottom there is the requisite “Get out of jail free” card…

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Maybe. But I doubt there was any hand wringing in Doha over letting that article go out either…

Pondering Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on March 16, 2014 by icn2

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik writes about Al Jazeera America…six months in…

Is Al Jazeera America expanding the diversity of American TV with its programming, as some of us have hoped since the purchase of Current was announced? And does it look like the channel will become a true alternative for the kinds of news and information that U.S. viewers might not be able to find anywhere else on television?

In partial answer to those questions, I offer the documentary “On the Frontlines with the Taliban,” premiering at 9 p.m. March 21 on Al Jazeera America. A second part, “This Is Taliban Country,” is scheduled for 9 p.m. March 28.

As opposed to much American network and cable reporting on the fighting in Afghanistan, which is told from within a compound or fort looking out, this film is told from within the ranks of the insurgents. It opens with the camera among a ragged group of Taliban soldiers as they attack an Afghanistan army post. The sound of drones and NATO warplanes is overhead.

The documentary defines reporting from the ground-up, versus top-down. Instead of talking to PR-prepped generals and government officials back in their safe offices, this film gets down in the dust of the battlefield and captures the foot soldiers in all their fervor, bluster, frustration, finger-pointing, hope and fear as they launch an attack and then see it go mostly wrong.

Ukraine: Al Jazeera America’s Coverage Plans

Posted in Al Jazeera on March 3, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera America announced special Ukraine coverage tonight…

‘CRISIS IN UKRAINE’ – DAYLONG COVERAGE ON AL JAZEERA AMERICA CULMINATES IN SPECIAL REPORT LIVE AT 9 PM ET/6 PM PT

“AMERICA TONIGHT” INTERVIEWS SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, FOLLOWS BREAKING DEVELOPMENTS AND OFFERS EXPERT ANALYSIS

Find Al Jazeera America near you: http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/getajam.html

ALL DAY – Al Jazeera America presents in-depth coverage of breaking news, background on the historical and geo-political development of the crisis, its impact on the day-to-day lives of Ukrainians and effect on world markets. Correspondents from across the Al Jazeera America network reaches into all the affected areas in Ukraine and the power centers of Moscow and Washington. Coverage includes:

· Nick Schifrin and Jennifer Glasse reporting from the ground in Simferopol
· Phil Ittner reporting from Kiev
· Mike Viqueria live from the White House with Obama’s reaction
· James Bays with reaction from the United Nations
· Rory Challands describing the situation from Moscow
· Ali Velshi talks to the conflict’s impact on the international markets from New York
· 9 pm ET – Joie Chen anchors a live hour on up-to-the minute developments in Ukraine on “AMERICA TONIGHT,” including an interview with Senator John McCain
· 10 pm ET – “CONSIDER THIS” interviews the former president of Georgia, who will discuss the similarities between the current conflict in Ukraine and when Russia occupied Georgian territories in 2008

Al Jazeera America Wins First Award

Posted in Al Jazeera on February 19, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera America announced today that it had won a Gracie Award…the network’s first award ever…

Al Jazeera America Wins Gracie Award

Producer Reed Lindsay Wins AJAM’s First Award Presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation

NEW YORK – (February 19, 2014) – Al Jazeera America’s “America Tonight” producer Reed Lindsay is the recipient of a “Gracie” award, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, for the story “Fists of Fury,” in the “Outstanding Hard News Feature” category. The award ceremony will take place in Beverly Hills, California on May 20, 2014. This marks the first award won by Al Jazeera America, the new U.S. news channel.

“Fists of Fury” aired on November 25, 2013 and follows a young woman’s journey from the slums of Kolkata (Calcutta) to the competitive boxing ring. The judges awarded Reed this honor for “superior quality in writing, product and programming.”

“This story epitomizes the values and mission of Al Jazeera America,” said Kate O’Brian, President of Al Jazeera America. “‘Fists of Fury’ is about a teenage girl who is defying the prevailing stereotype that Indian women are powerless victims in a chauvinistic society. We congratulate Reed and the entire team involved with reporting this important story.”

The story was commissioned by “America Tonight,” shepherded by senior commissioning producer Kathy Slobogin, and the subject was exclusive to Al Jazeera America.

Al Jazeera America’s Documentary Ambitions…

Posted in Al Jazeera on February 18, 2014 by icn2

Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes about Al Jazeera America’s plans for documentaries…

Al Jazeera America is setting up a slate of ambitious documentaries in an effort to raise its profile among news aficionados while stoking demand for the fledgling cable-news outlet.

Many of the projects will contain multiple episodes and come from big names on the documentary scene, including Alex Gibney and Joe Berlinger. The network has run documentaries in recent months, but the new ones, “Borderland,” represent the first Al Jazeera America has directly commissioned, explained Shannon High, the network’s senior veep of documentaries and programs, and there are hopes the quality and scope of the series will spark more interest in the Qatar-backed news cabler.

“Borderland,” is a four-part series that will show six Americans given the task of retracing the footsteps of three deceased migrants attempting to cross to the United States from Mexico. In the process, the network will draw attention to the plight of 5,500 individuals who have perished in the desert over the last 15 years while trying to make a similar journey.

Related: The Wrap’s Lucas Shaw has more on the Joe Berlinger aspect of today’s news…

The director of “Paradise Lost” and a Whitey Bulger documentary will revisit the subject of U.S. law and order

Award-wining filmmaker Joe Berlinger will direct and executive produce “The System,” an eight-part series on the criminal justice system, for Al-Jazeera America, TheWrap has learned.

The series, produced by Radical Media, will examine subjects such as false confessions, mandatory sentencing and the treatment of juvenile offenders.

Documentaries about criminal justice (and injustice) are a specialty of Berlinger’s, best known for directing “Paradise Lost,” a film trilogy about the West Memphis Three. Those films documented the trials of a trio of teenagers convicted of murder. New evidence secured their freedom more than 18 years after they entered prison.

And then there’s this…somewhat awkward…factoid…

Berlinger’s latest film, about infamous mobster Whitey Bulger, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will air on CNN in the Spring.

So if CNN scores in broadcasting the Bulger doc how does AJA play off it? On the other side of that coin, how does CNN explain losing out on Berlinger’s services, at least temporarily, to upstart AJA?

Press Releases: 01/30/14

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 30, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera America (1)

“AMERICA’S MIDDLE CLASS – REBUILDING THE DREAM” HOSTED BY ALI VELSHI
AIRS MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3 AT 7 PM ET AND 10 PM ET ON AL JAZEERA AMERICA; KICKS OFF YEARLONG FOCUS ON ISSUES FACING THE MIDDLE CLASS

GUESTS INCLUDE SUZE ORMAN, ROBERT REICH, ROBERT SHILLER

VELSHI CONTINUES THE DIALOGUE AT TOWN HALL EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY IN 2014

The plight of the Middle Class is emerging as a key theme in the upcoming midterm elections. Our changing economy has squeezed this group more than any other. This trend has already deteriorated economic activity and may prove devastating to the American economy, which has traditionally been fueled by middle income consumers. Veteran business journalist Ali Velshi will give viewers a clear, uncluttered examination of this issue during a one-hour special program, “America’s Middle Class – Rebuilding The Dream,” airing Monday, February 3 at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT and 10 pm ET/7 pm PT on Al Jazeera America.
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The Àl Jazeera America Question…

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 28, 2014 by icn2

USA Today’s Rem Rieder writes about whether Al Jazeera America can succeed…

Despite the jabs and the challenges, Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America’s CEO, professes confidence that he’s on the right track. He says his network is very ambitious, and he’s in it for the long haul.The nation’s changing demographics, in his view, work in his favor.

“We can reshape the market,” he says.

Al Shihabi believes AJAM’s commitment to investigative reporting and in-depth coverage of national and international news is a winning one. At a time when many other outlets are cutting back on the labor-intensive and costly practice of accountability journalism, he says the network has 12 investigative reporters on board and that we will soon begin seeing the fruits of their labors. And he plans to hire more.

AJAM has 12 national bureaus and access to 70 foreign correspondents who work for other parts of the AL Jazeera news empire.

“A lot of news is moving toward entertainment,” he says. “We are going completely the opposite way.”

Al Jazeera America got some good news in December when Time Warner Cable added it to its cable lineup, meaning the station is now available in about 55 million homes. On Tuesday, TWC is moving the channel into a much more prominent position in the New York City market.

And AJAM plans an ad campaign to attract more attention to what it’s got.

2014 SOTU: Al Jazeera America Coverage Plans

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 27, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera America’s 2014 SOTU plans…

AL JAZEERA AMERICA TO EXAMINE HOW THE STATE OF THE UNION WILL IMPACT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Live Coverage Anchored from NY and DC to Include Immigration, Education, Guns, Jobs and Income Inequality – AJAM to Also Deliver Reaction from Around the Globe

John McCain, Bill Richardson, Mack McLarty, Larry Summers, David Stockman and Amy Kremer Among Guests

On Tuesday, January 28, beginning at 6 pm ET, Al Jazeera America’s Tony Harris, Ali Velshi, David Shuster and Richelle Carey will offer news and commentary on the State of the Union address live from New York. Guests will include Senator John McCain (R-AZ); former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Mack McLarty, White House Chief of Staff for President Clinton; Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary under President Clinton; David Stockman, Office of Management and Budget Director under President Reagan, and Amy Kremer, Tea Party Express PAC leader.
Continue reading

Time Warner Cable and Al Jazeera America Come To Terms…

Posted in Al Jazeera on October 24, 2013 by icn2

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter scoops that Time Warner Cable will begin carrying Al Jazeera America…

Time Warner Cable, one of the country’s biggest cable operators, has agreed to carry Al Jazeera America, giving the Qatar-owned broadcaster exposure to millions more households as it seeks to build an audience in the United States.

The contract, to be announced on Thursday, is vital for Al Jazeera because Time Warner Cable supplies television to millions of households in New York and Los Angeles, two essential markets. Al Jazeera America will be added to the channel lineups in those markets this year, and in Time Warner Cable’s other markets by March.

Al Jazeera To Launch YouTube Channel…

Posted in Al Jazeera on October 9, 2013 by icn2

Al Jazeera is launching a YouTube channel with offices headquartered in San Francisco…

Quatar-based TV news network Al Jazeera will launch a dedicated online video channel within the next few months. The channel was announced at the MIPCOM industry convention in Cannes this week, and a press release quoted Al Jazeera’s Innovation and Incubation Manager Moeed Ahmad with the following words:

“There is a generation of people who wants to go beyond the box. They instinctively turn online to consume news. They share, like, Tweet, comment, interact and forward. To reach them requires a fresh approach. We’re working hard to bring this to the world. It will be engaging and at times entertaining – but always with purpose. Get ready – we’re coming soon.”

An Al Jazeera representative told the Hollywood Reporter that the new online venture will be headquartered in San Francisco, with dedicated offices in Johannesburg, Beijing, New Delhi and elsewhere.

Al Jazeera Sues AT&T…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 20, 2013 by icn2

Deadline’s Lisa De Moraes writes about Al Jazeera suing AT&T for dropping Al Jazeera America just before launch…

Al Jazeera has sued AT&T for refusing to carry the Qatar-based company’s new Al Jazeera America as part of its pay TV service, claiming AT&T is violating a deal it had with Al Jazeera’s U.S. division, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court. AT&T officials’ decision amounts to a “wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement,” Al Jazeera said in the filing, which accompanied a sealed complaint, Bloomberg reported late this afternoon. Details on the case came from a cover sheet that contained a brief description of the network’s claims, Bloomberg reported.AT&T announced shortly before the new network’s launch this afternoon that it had dropped Al Gore’s Current TV channel last night, and would not carry Al Jazeera America, on U-verse due to contract disputes. Al Jazeera had paid $500 million for Current TV in January and replaced it with Al Jazeera America. “AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations,” a rep for Al Jazeera told Bloomberg.

Why Al Jazeera America Matters…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 20, 2013 by icn2

Or so says the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik…who also throws an elbow at Brian Stelter for using anonymous network sources…

Could the attempt to marginalize this channel by the “senior television news executive” be any more obvious?

Maybe to you and me, but apparently not the reporter, media editor and public editor at the Times.

I guess, if the Times wants to be used this way, that is its right. But why not tell the “senior television news executive” that he or she has to be named or the quote will not be used? Or, how about telling us what network or channel they are a “senior television news executive” at, so we can judge?

CNN, for example, has a lot to lose if Al Jazeera America is even a little successful. The modest ratings gains CNN has managed to make in 2013 under new president Jeff Zucker are going to disappear pretty fast if Al Jazeera America splits or even takes a bite out of the audience on big, breaking news stories. And with CNN under Zucker favoring sensational trials over coups and riots in places like Egypt, Al Jazeera could find a breaking news audience very fast.

If this quote came from someone at CNN, which is owned by the same Time Warner that has so far kept Al Jazeera America off its cable systems, the New York Times should be ashamed of printing it without such disclosure. But we will never know because the paper gave the speaker anonymity so she or he could attempt to marginalize Al Jazeera America without accountability or risk.

Ditto for NBC News or Fox or anyone else at any other network. And why only one voice speaking for all “would-be competitors at big broadcast news divisions…and cable news channels…”?

Al Jazeera America Profile

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 19, 2013 by icn2

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about Al Jazeera America…which I guess means he’s not scheduled to host Reliable Sources again soon…

What is unique about Al Jazeera — its seemingly limitless financing from an oil- and gas-rich government — may be its biggest advantage and its most-remarked-upon weakness.

With a staff of 900, including 400 newsroom employees, it is one of the most significant investments in television journalism in modern times.

Paul Eedle, an Al Jazeera English executive who is helping to start the channel, would not comment on the total budget, but said hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent. “We’re here because we think our journalistic mission has something to offer America,” he said.

Many contend Qatar’s geopolitical aims are a motivator, too. The Al Jazeera name still arouses deep suspicion in some Americans, mostly because of the period immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Al Jazeera broadcast messages from Osama bin Laden and was demonized by Bush administration officials as anti-American.

Al Jazeera America officials rebut questions about whether its brand name will hurt its chances on cable by invoking other foreign brands, like Honda, that are now viewed favorably in the United States.

For now, some big sponsors appear to be skittish; Al Jazeera declined to name any major advertisers.

It has cast its lower commercial load — about six minutes an hour, compared with more than 15 minutes an hour on another news channels — as a perk for viewers. “Not cluttering the news with commercials,” Mr. Al Shihabi said after a studio tour in New York on Thursday.

Al Jazeera America Profile…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 5, 2013 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers ponders Al Jazeera America…

“We are going to be committed to covering news that comes from all over the United States in ways that our competitors can’t do at this point,” Kate O’Brian, the former ABC News executive who is newly named president of AJAM, told POLITICO. “And Al Jazeera is able to cover international stories better than others because of all the resources we have around the world through Al Jazeera English,” the company’s existing English-language network.

But Al Jazeera has yet to prove that the appetite for a straightforward newsgathering channel actually exists in the United States. When asked for evidence that it does, proponents will cite the spike in viewership during Al Jazeera English’s livestream coverage of the 2011 Arab Spring, which could be viewed for free online. But those numbers subsided as quickly as they spiked.

Meanwhile, the relatively infinitesimal demand for channels like BBC and CNN International, which Al Jazeera is likely to emulate — albeit with far more domestic coverage — suggests that Americans are content without such a channel. CNN’s own tack away from the traditional newsgathering model provides further cause for doubt.

“If it’s just going to be a conventional news channel, there is not a market for that. What Al Jazeera America has to do is decide what’s going to make it unique,” said Philip Seib, the author of “The Al Jazeera Effect” and director of the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.

David Marash, Al Jazeera English’s former Washington anchor, said that AJAM can’t rely on courting existing cable news viewers — most of whom are above the age of 60 — but would instead have to find and cultivate a new audience, much the way Fox News did in 1996.

Al Jazeera to Cease Online Live Streaming of Al Jazeera English When Al Jazeera America Launches…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 2, 2013 by icn2

Mondoweiss’ Max Blumenthal scoops that Al Jazeera will cease streaming Al Jazeera English when Al Jazeera America launches…

Staff members of Al Jazeera have informed me that as soon as Al Jazeera America (AJAM) launches on August 20, American viewers will be unable to access the online livestream of Al Jazeera English (AJE). Because of restrictions imposed by cable providers, AJAM and AJE will both be unavailable to online viewers in the United States.

The promise of Al Jazeera America is getting lesser by the day. First the cut out international simulcasting…then they state that the channel will be US focused. Now this… 

Inside Al Jazeera America’s New Studio…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 1, 2013 by icn2

Newscast Studio’s Dak Dillon has an inside look at Al Jazeera America’s new studio. The set design will come across as very unfamiliar to US cable news viewers used to crampt sets, bright lights, banks of monitors, and loud colors. This set is very very international in design.

The Al Jazeera Gambit…

Posted in Al Jazeera on July 28, 2013 by icn2

The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone writes about how Al Jazeera America is shaping up…

The global news organization has spared no expense in getting a U.S. network off the ground to compete with CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. In January, the company shelled out $500 million for Al Gore’s struggling Current TV in order to gain wider U.S. cable distribution, and in the months that followed, it hired 700 staffers in preparation for an Aug. 20 launch.

But even with seemingly unlimited resources, can Al Jazeera America break away from the cable news crowd?

Its new stars say yes.

Joie Chen, a veteran of CNN and CBS News who was announced this week as host of flagship evening news magazine “America Tonight,” said Wednesday that the show “will bring together the powerful and diverse voices of Al Jazeera America and stand out from other networks with its fearless, unbiased reporting.”

Yet some inside the company remain skeptical that the network will depart from the status quo, especially given that Chen -– like many of the recent high-profile hires –- hails from established US broadcast and cable news networks.

One Al Jazeera staffer spoke of getting the impression that “those launching the channel have little confidence that the mass audience they seek wants anything terribly different from the current mainstream programming offered by CNN” and other networks.

David Shuster to Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on July 22, 2013 by icn2

The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone writes that David Shuster may be joining Al Jazeera America…

David Shuster, a veteran of MSNBC and Fox News, is joining Al Jazeera America as an anchor, according a source familiar with the deal.

Shuster is the latest high-profile journalist to land at Al Jazeera America, which is expected to launch Aug. 20. The Qatar-owned Al Jazeera Media Network is pouring resources into a United States -based cable news network that will replace Current TV. So far, Al Jazeera America has reportedly hired 689 staffers –- about 200 of whom are coming from Current — while still searching for a top news executive.

If true…Al Jazeera America has just made its first misstep…and it hasn’t even launched yet…

Al Jazeera America Update…

Posted in Al Jazeera on June 17, 2013 by icn2

The Wall St. Journal’s Keach Hagey writes about Al Jazeera America…

Two key jobs remain unfilled: those of president and chief executive. Mr. Al Shihabi said he has met with a short list of finalists for the job of president, which will oversee editorial operations.

One issue holding back several former TV-news executives, who say they have been contacted by Al Jazeera’s headhunters, is that key decisions are being made by a launch team based out of Doha, Qatar, despite Al Jazeera’s statements that the channel will be American-led.

Mr. Al Shihabi said this view shows a lack of understanding of the culture of Al Jazeera, where decisions on everything from hiring to programming are made by “consensus” and “committee.”

“It is impossible to have the Al Jazeera standard of journalism across all countries by saying, ‘President, CEO, you are in charge, go and build,’ ” he said. “The president and CEO, they need time to have a knowledge transfer” from the launch team. Once that team feels the local channel is “in safe hands,” it will “take a back seat.”

This approach has stoked concerns about Al Jazeera America’s editorial independence from its backers in Doha, particularly as Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel has been seen as increasingly aligned with Qatar’s foreign-policy objectives since the Arab Spring changed Middle East politics.

Presidential Primaries…Sort Of…

Posted in Al Jazeera on June 10, 2013 by icn2

TVNewser’s Alex Weprin writes about the continuing search for a President for Al Jazeera America…

Those interviews are likely one of the last hurdles before the channel decided who its new chief executive should be. Among the candidates said to be under consideration: former CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein, former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker and former ABC News chief David Westin.

I would give Klein the nod over Westin because Klein has prior experience in the role and that is one thing AJA needs…someone who knows the ropes of cable news. But the truth is any of those three would be acceptable at this point.

Mike Viqueira to Al Jazeera America….

Posted in Al Jazeera, MSNBC on June 5, 2013 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about NBC’s Mike Viqueira jumping to Al Jazeera America…

Al Jazeera America has hired NBC’s Michael Viqueira to serve as its first-ever White House correspondent when it launches later this year. Viqueira previously served as a producer and congressional correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC.

“Michael Viqueira is a seasoned national correspondent with deep experience covering Washington politics,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera and the senior executive in charge of developing Al Jazeera America. “Every political activity in the Capitol has an impact on the average American and his knowledge and extensive network of contacts will allow him to dig deeper to bring important news and information to light for the American public.”

Al Jazeera Diluted?

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 28, 2013 by icn2

I meant to get to this last night but couldn’t. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter scoops with some disturbing news that Al Jazeera America will be less internationally focused than many of us had thought (and hoped).

When Al Jazeera’s owners in Qatar acquired Al Gore’s Current TV in January, they said that Current would be replaced by Al Jazeera America, an international news channel with 60 percent new programming from the United States.

The remaining 40 percent, they said, would come from Al Jazeera English, their existing English-language news channel in Doha, Qatar, that is already available in much of the rest of the world.

That plan is no more. Now Al Jazeera America is aiming to have virtually all of its programming originate from the United States, according to staff members and others associated with the channel who were interviewed in recent weeks.

It will look inward, covering domestic affairs more often than foreign affairs. It will, in other words, operate much like CNN (though the employees say they won’t be as sensational) and Fox News (though they say they won’t be opinion-driven).

And with that news junkies’ hearts just sank a bit. We don’t know how this will all unfold on the TV but it’s not looking as promising as I had hoped.

Pondering Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 25, 2013 by icn2

The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey pens an article that is as much, if not more, about Qatar as it is about Al Jazeera…(via TVNewser)

When Bishara, the host of Empire, talks about working for Al Jazeera English, he doesn’t really talk about Qatar. “The thing is the experience,” he says. “That one can move from one experience to another, one nationality to another, one language to another, continent to another—that is the experience of the last several years, and that is the thing I value about Al Jazeera. We live in our own multilingual, multipolitics world. And I hope that it will be the same at Al Jazeera America.” That could be the future of Qatar.

The incident with Professor Massad’s anti-Semitism essay does not bode well, and it’s not encouraging to think that if it had been published on the Al Jazeera Arabic website, nobody would have blinked an eye because so much is published there that is so much more extreme. But Al Jazeera America can do better than that, and very probably will, if it ever starts broadcasting.

(hyperlink insertion: ICN)

John Meehan Joins Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 7, 2013 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers writes that former Thomson Reuters Producer John Meehan has been hired by Al Jazeera America…

Al Jazeera America has hired former Thomson Reuters producer John Meehan to serve as senior executive producer of the forthcoming channel’s financial and business coverage. Meehan will also serve as senior executive producer for the new business show hosted by former CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to reinvent the notion of what business news coverage in America can be,” Meehan said in a statement. “Al Jazeera America’s business and financial coverage will be about the continuing economic challenges facing the American family today, rather than just the daily ups and downs of Wall Street and official statistics.”

Delays At Al Jazeera America?

Posted in Al Jazeera on April 17, 2013 by icn2

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson writes about things taking longer than planned to get All Jazeera America up and running…

Some close to the network are now whispering “summer” as a target date for a launch — with a few fearing the Qatari government-owned network may not be ready to roll until near Labor Day.

“This is not a ratings race,” said a source, “This is a get-on-the-air race. June is not going to happen. The best guess is August or September.”

International executive Ehab Al Shihabi and his staff are trying to hire a news boss and have reached out to a host of well-respected names, including former NBC News chief Steve Capus and former CNNers Jon Klein, David Bohrman and David Doss.

So far, no one has jumped at the offer and at least one executive said he was a bit squeamish about the source of the network money.

Network brass have named just two executives to the service, former CNN business journalist Ali Velshi, who will create a daily prime-time business show, and investigative reporter Ed Pound.

Al Jazeera persuaded Ken Ripley, Current TV’s former ad sales chief, to come aboard, The Post has learned, but is still without a permanent distribution chief to negotiate the critical carriage agreements.

Ali Velshi Joining Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on April 4, 2013 by icn2

From the “I never could have foreseen that” file, TVNewser’s Alex Weprin scoops that Ali Velshi is joining Al Jazeera America…

When he announced his departure, Velshi told TVNewser that he was leaving on great terms with CNN and wanted “to stretch some new muscles and grow something, and it appeals to my entrepreneurial side.” Al Jazeera is pouring millions of dollars into its new Al Jazeera America cable channel, essentially taking the bare bones structure and channel placement of Current TV and creating something new. Velshi is going to be a big part of that plan.

>Update: Velshi will develop and host a half-hour “magazine-style” show that will launch as a weekly program, with plans to expand to five days a week by the end of the year.

Shakeup At Al Jazeera London? Maybe Not So Much…

Posted in Al Jazeera on March 28, 2013 by icn2

The Press Gazette’s Alan Selby writes about Al Jazeera pushback on yesterday’s story in The Evening Standard…

But Al Jazeera said there was “no truth” in the suggestion jobs are under threat, and insisted it is planning a large expansion of its UK arm before it moves into new offices in the Shard in a year’s time.

A spokesman said: “The last thing we’re looking to do is get rid of people.”

Al Jazeera said the staff involved would be taking part in temporary placements, and that this was commonplace.

“There are always movement between staff, but there are no plans to send people there and then they go back to the UK and they have no jobs… we always have people coming from London to Dohar.”

Shakeup at Al Jazeera London…

Posted in Al Jazeera on March 27, 2013 by icn2

The Evening Standard writes about some apparently turbulent changes coming to All Jazeera’s London Bureau…

Braziers and picket lines at the ready! Staff at Al Jazeera English TV’s Broadcast Centre, based in Knightsbridge, are reacting with shock to the announcement that London news programming is being wound down and that they have barely 10 days to move to Doha, Qatar.

Roughly 15 to 20 programme editors, producers and other output staff are immediately affected and learned of their fate courtesy of a brusque email from the network’s director of news, Salah Negm. The Broadcast Centre opened in 2006, and will continue to operate. However, many staff inside are now in receipt of the email telling them that they have to uproot themselves for three months on April 7 and head to the Middle East — and with no guarantee that their jobs will still be there when they return.

“Staff are utterly appalled,” says my source at the National Union of Journalists. “They had thought that they would be moving from Knightsbridge to The Shard — not the desert. We’ve never had so many membership applications in such a short time.”

Oh…BS!

Posted in Al Jazeera on February 6, 2013 by icn2

Radar Online’s Jen Heger writes that Ann Curry may jump to Al Jazeera…

“Ann has had informal talks about working for the new Al Jazeera operation in America which is expected to formally launch later this year,” a source tells Radar. “She’s extremely interested in what the network will be doing in the U.S. and has always held their reporting in high regard. She’s still in talks with CNN, but the opportunity of being front and center at the launch of a new international news channel, especially one that promises to shake up and challenge existing reporting of world events, is something that greatly appeals to her.”

Up until now Radar Online’s prognostications on the Curry saga have at least had the tinge of believability to them. Until now. Al Jazeera? For a “name” like Curry Al Jazeera would be career suicide in this country. The network has gained a reputation, justified or not. Anyone who joins will have to contend with that. The potential resume damage one could receieve as a result of joining Al Jazeera is much much greater for a “name” talent than one who is not a name. Curry and her agent should know this. Which is why I seriously want to call BS to this story.

Pondering Al Jazeera America: Another Angle

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 20, 2013 by icn2

The Toronto Star has an Op-Ed from Tony Burman, the former head of Al Jazeera English, regarding the Al Jazeera/Current deal… (via DC Internationalist)

This sale is a huge gamble for Al Jazeera. Companies that refused to carry Al Jazeera for political reasons will be forced to distribute Al Jazeera America when it replaces Current TV. Time Warner Cable in New York City has already dropped Current TV and says it won’t broadcast Al Jazeera. One wonders what will happen to Al Jazeera America over the next few years when other cable and satellite contracts expire. There have also been suggestions it may have to end its popular online streaming in the U.S. to accommodate these contracts.

Al Jazeera’s hope, presumably, is that broad numbers of Americans will gradually be won over by the range and diversity of its news and programming. A large part of my role with Al Jazeera English, particularly in the U.S. and Canada, was to urge people to get past the post-Sept. 11 fear-mongering and appreciate the channel’s editorial accomplishments and numerous prestigious awards.

It was striking that, in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Qatar and asked to meet senior Al Jazeera officials. I was part of that meeting and her message was that the Obama administration regarded Al Jazeera as part of the “solution,” not the “problem” in the Middle East.

Al Jazeera’s challenge won’t be an easy one. My sense of Al Jazeera today is that it is becoming a more “top-down,” centrally driven news operation than ever before. All news programs and most editorial decisions now come out of Qatar.

Al Jazeera America will force it to change if it wants to succeed. For news channels to thrive in the U.S., America’s story must be “made in America.” Al Jazeera has time to turn it around before “the lights go on” in these 40 million homes, but not much time. The American TV marketplace waits for no one, and rarely grants a second chance.

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