The Àl Jazeera America Question…

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.

67 Responses to “The Àl Jazeera America Question…”

  1. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    I was a bit weary of AJAM at first, but their on-air product is very good. Day in and day out, they cover the hard news that, quite frankly, no other news outlet does (apart from maybe BBC World). It’s a good channel, but it’s going to take a LOT of time for them to slowly build some traction in the ratings world. Should be interesting to see how AJAM expands in the years ahead….

  2. What is their goal? To make a profit? If not, what?

  3. What is their goal? To make a profit? If not, what?

    What’s their goal? Their goal is, you aren’t capable of grasping the concept of reporting the news. That’s their goal.

  4. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    What is their goal? To make a profit? If not, what?

    What’s their goal? Their goal is, you aren’t capable of grasping the concept of reporting the news. That’s their goal.

    It was a legitimate question, Andy. They need viewers to attract advertisers.

  5. It was a legitimate question, Andy. They need viewers to attract advertisers.

    I gave a legitimate answer.

    A serious journalist would rather do a good newscast for 1,000 people than do a bad newscast for 1,000,000.

    Al Jazeera America is a new network and it will take a lot of time before they can build up an audience – and they know that. If they keep doing what they’re doing, people will take notice. In fact, a lot of people are starting to take notice.

  6. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    No, you gave it an insulting answer. The “you aren’t capable of grasping the concept of reporting the news” is simply insulting. You are better than that, Andy.

  7. No, that wasn’t insulting. Name-calling would be insulting. Larry asks this same “What’s Al Jazeera’s goal” question every single time the subject of AJAM comes up. Their goal is to report the news. It’s that freaking simple.

  8. Well, if their simultaneous goal isn’t to make a profit then they won’t stick around.

  9. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Saying that someone isn’t “capable of grasping the concept of reporting the news” Is an insult. Reporting the news can not be the only goal. They need ratings. Without ratings, the advertisers will take their money elsewhere and the cable systems will drop them They aren’t public charities. It’s simply how the free market works.

  10. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Well, if their simultaneous goal isn’t to make a profit then they won’t stick around.

    Bingo!

  11. It’s not an insult if it’s the truth.

    The ratings will come in time and the advertisers with it. It might not even take as long as Al Jazeera might think either with Jeff Zucker continuing to destroy CNN. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It took ESPN decades to actually become a viable household brand. And its taken even longer for ESPN to get any competition.

  12. “Well, if their simultaneous goal isn’t to make a profit then they won’t stick around.”
    The are being fronted by a Middle East fortune, so that is debatable… but why?

  13. Well, if their simultaneous goal isn’t to make a profit then they won’t stick around.

    Al Jazeera can afford to do what they’re doing for a long time, actually.

    AJAM’s only focus right now needs to be to find and reach its target audience. Which is exactly what they’re working on.

  14. Ah…ESPN…there’s the answer. Disney will buy Qatar and hire Obermann.

  15. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    It’s not an insult if it’s the truth.

    You might want to check with Spud on that. It seems to be far past the treating others with respect rule. I’m trying to get you out of a mess, Andy. We’ve had our differences, but I don’t want to see you bounced.

  16. Qatar is in the news bis for the entire world. For the third time, WHY?

  17. Qatar is in the news bis for the entire world. For the third time, WHY?

    To report the news. It really is that simple. #rocketscience

  18. So they are being philanthropic? #hardly

  19. Come on, Andy. You think they”re running a charitable organization over here just to give the good people of America the opportunity to watch “news”? They’re either doing it to make money or for political purposes. Or, for some of both. But, they are not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts; just to give us poor schlobs the opportunity to see some sort of, what you would describe as, unfiltered unbiased news.

  20. That’s right Chris, obviously their mission is to promote terrorism and Islamic propaganda here in the United States. That’s why they launched a channel here in the U.S.

  21. One day the rich Arab woke up and said “Megan Kelly is not a straight news person. To hell with helping the poor Palestinians, I’m spending my oil money to proved truth to America, great satan they so be.”

  22. One day the rich Arab woke up and said “Megan Kelly is not a straight news person…”

    Can you try to go an entire day without trolling other posters?

  23. That wasn’t a troll, it was plain old fashion sarcasm.

  24. try not getting aggressive just because you are losing an argument

  25. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    One of their big mistakes wasn’t going with a different name for the American audience. Al-Jazeera, rightly or wrongly, is associated with beheadings and Osama Bin Laden tapes.

  26. Never did get a decent answer.

  27. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Can you try to go an entire day without trolling other posters?

    I tried, folks. God only know that I tried.

  28. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Let it go, Larry. Let Spud handle it.

  29. That wasn’t a troll, it was plain old fashion sarcasm.

    No, that was intentional trolling of a commenter who hasn’t posted on this thread. You don’t get to do one thing, then say it’s a different thing.

  30. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    No, that was intentional trolling of a commenter who hasn’t posted on this thread. You don’t get to do one thing, then say it’s a different thing.

  31. That wasn’t a troll, it was plain old fashion sarcasm.

    It’s trolling when you do it in every single thread.

    Never did get a decent answer.

    Translation: You didn’t get the answer you wanted to hear.

    One of their big mistakes wasn’t going with a different name for the American audience. Al-Jazeera, rightly or wrongly, is associated with beheadings and Osama Bin Laden tapes.

    This I agree with. Wrongly associated for sure but still associated never the less. It wasn’t Al Jazeera showing those beheadings – that was classic Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld propaganda. As for the Osama Bin Laden tapes, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, NBC and CBS all aired those tapes as well.

    I tried, folks. God only know that I tried.

    Because you’ve been the shining beacon of civility over the past year. I’ve been quite cordial in this thread. I call a trolling post a trolling post because it is. This is what LK does – throws bombs out.

  32. I didn’t say anything about terrorism. I watched some of it when it launched but the non-HD and the blandness bored me. I assume they’re in business for the same reasons as the other 400 stations I get.

  33. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    ^Hit enter too quick. My answer was “What?”

  34. Haven’t got a clue what Joe is talking about Nixon. Silly. I’ll take your advice.

  35. Well, Al Jazeera wasn’t completely innocent. They were the go-to source for distribution of Islamic/ anti-American propaganda.

    You wouldn’t be so generous if an American news channel acted that way.

  36. Qatar is making the huge investment for a reason that offers no other motive than to mold opinion, Lonestar. Nothing else makes sense. Being questioning is nothing but a prudent thing to do, particularly after they get established.

  37. So, nobody gets in to journalism because they want to inform people? Everyone that gets in to journalism does it with a motive to mold public opinion or to make money? That’s a rather cynical, pessimistic outlook on the world in general you have there, Larry.

  38. Now at least you are getting to the meat of my question, Andy.

  39. Andy, tone it down…I get your point and it is valid but there are better ways of making it. Larry’s question could be inferred to be ‘What is their agenda?’ and it is a fair question. Qatar wants a role in the middle east and one way you get that is by getting into media. I do not think anyone can argue that Qatar had pure journalistic ambitions when it first formed Al Jazeera. It had a purpose and an agenda. When you are in the media you can set the agenda to a certain extent. Look at FNC and MSNBC. Both certainly set the agenda for certain constituencies. But who is Al Jazeera’s constituency here in the US?

  40. Seems to me they aspire to be what CNN once was before Jeff Zucker took over.

  41. If becoming a ratings leader and making a lot of money in the cable news market is the goal of AJAM then they are bound to fail. But if they just want to carve out a niche in the market by concentrating on unbiased news coverage on various media, then they may succeed in the end.

    Because news coverage, particularly foreign news coverage, is very expensive I doubt they will ever make much money. But in the fractured world of cable news you don’t need huge ratings to be considered a ratings success. They have also been fortunate in that other American news gathering organizations are quickly shedding quality talent; which can be hired at a reasonable cost.

    The big competition today is from the internet not from other cable news nets. In five or ten years most cable news nets will either not be doing news (CNN), be TV versions of talk radio (FNC & MSNBC) or in niche news markets (Fuson & AJAM). Whether news networks even broadcast TV anymore or we just watch our news from the internet like a live version of Netflix is open to debate.

    In short we don’t know if AJAM is behind the times or ahead of the pack. My guess; it’s the latter.

  42. “Seems to me they aspire to be what CNN once was before Jeff Zucker took over.”

    ^^They aspire to be what CNN was when Ted Turner founded the network. CNN as Turner envisaged died long before Zucker took over. He’s just burying the body.

  43. If becoming a ratings leader and making a lot of money in the cable news market is the goal of AJAM then they are bound to fail. But if they just want to carve out a niche in the market by concentrating on unbiased news coverage on various media, then they may succeed in the end.

    This.

    Everyone also said NBCSN would fail trying to take on ESPN when, in reality, NBCSN’s catering to a niche audience in terms of hockey, soccer and motorsports. It’s working out just fine for them. The only new sports network that’s truly failing is FOX Sports 1 because they are trying to be a ratings leader like ESPN and have polarized what was the network’s core audience before the relaunch in the process.

    Because news coverage, particularly foreign news coverage, is very expensive I doubt they will ever make much money.

    Al Jazeera America is fortunate that not only can they use their international resources, but they also simulcast their international coverage quite often.

    They have also been fortunate in that other American news gathering organizations are quickly shedding quality talent; which can be hired at a reasonable cost.

    They definitely pulled off a talent raid.

  44. The news is always filtered by what is chosen to be reported, what is not, and how a story is told based on “the truth” as perceived by the teller. It presents the opportunity of influence, be you PRAVADA, VOICE OF AMERICA, the BBC, or CNN in the “good old days”.

  45. Sports channels seem a poor analogy to news channels. More like entertainment channels.

  46. Al Jazeera’s coverage isn’t just a bland news product as someone else said, their storytelling is unique. Take Real Money, for example. They don’t just read off stock quotes, tell you what stocks you should buy and sell and what’s going on with the banks and the Federal Reserve. They’re quite deliberately talking about how economic policy impacts average, everyday Americans. They’re talking about things that actually matter and investments that actually matter. That show itself makes CNBC and FOX Business look every bit as elitist as I’ve always said they are.

    I think that’s where Fritz’s point about being ahead of time comes to fruition. FNC and MSNBC, it’s just endless BS. Hyperbole. Partisan talking points. That model works right now but it won’t last much longer. Pretty soon, either things will improve in this country and neither network will have a market with angry partisans or, specifically for Fox News, Republicans will get elected and they won’t have as large a pool of angry conservatives watching.

    In the end, when it comes to real news, people don’t turn on FNC and MSNBC. In the past, they’ve turned on CNN. But CNN is pretty clearly in the process of exiting the news business and Al Jazeera America is right there to assume the international news market and the hard news market.

  47. Back home I watch China’s 7×24 English news cable channel. At first glance it looks like straight news even as it covers USA weather events, but you have to completely suspend disbelief that nothing else is going on. No difference than with Qatar, just a matter of degree.

  48. Sports channels seem a poor analogy to news channels. More like entertainment channels.

    Not when we’re talking about niche markets.

    CNN has polarized an audience that used to turn on that channel to watch international news. They’re the network you go to for cruise ship rescues, documentaries about celebrities and Bieber news. That audience CNN’s lost will begin finding Al Jazeera.

    My sports analogy works when talking about FOX Sports 1. That was the SPEED Channel. When they launched in to FOX Sports 1, they axed countless hours of motorsports programming. Now, people who used to watch SPEED are going to be watching MAVTV (when they can get it) and NBCSN.

    Example: Joe would have been watching the Rolex 24 race on SPEED on Saturday night. SPEED is now FOX Sports 1. FOX Sports 1 did not carry the Rolex 24 race. Instead, it was on a channel Joe doesn’t get and in an abridged window at that. So, he didn’t watch. When NASCAR goes to NBCSN in 2015, that network will be the home of NASCAR, F1 and IndyCar and Joe and at least two million other people will be watching that channel.

  49. I turn on FNC for real news. I am people.

  50. Back home I watch China’s 7×24 English news cable channel. At first glance it looks like straight news even as it covers USA weather events, but you have to completely suspend disbelief that nothing else is going on. No difference than with Qatar, just a matter of degree.

    I agree to a degree – but whatever bias AJAM has, it’s very subtle. I will admit that they do somewhat come off as advocating a few causes such as inhumane prison treatment but, at the same time, it’s also something that other channels ignore.

    A lot of my friends watch RT America and preach everything that channel airs as gospel. I have to remind them that RT America is blatant, anti-American propaganda. Much of the facts they present are true – but it’s still propaganda. I have to tell them that, yes, RT’s facts are correct, but RT pretty blatantly ignores several elements and they don’t present the whole story.

  51. savefarris Says:

    Everyone also said NBCSN would fail trying to take on ESPN when, in reality, NBCSN’s catering to a niche audience in terms of hockey, soccer and motorsports.

    That’s because as a tiny piece of the Comcast family, they can afford to. NBCSN isn’t bringing in great ratings, but they’re not supposed to. They’re just supposed to sit there and exist so NBC can charge higher carriage fees for their other, more important, channels. CNBC/Univision/USA/SyFy/Bravo etc. are keeping NBCSN in the channel grid.

    AJAM doesn’t have a similar parent channel/family that can keep it on the satellite, so it can’t expect to continue with the ratings they’re getting.

  52. But, Larry, it’s an undeniable fact that, when a major, earth shattering news event happens, people who watch MSNBC turn on CNN, people who don’t watch cable news turn on CNN and a handful of people who watch FNC turn on CNN.

  53. That’s because as a tiny piece of the Comcast family, they can afford to. NBCSN isn’t bringing in great ratings, but they’re not supposed to. They’re just supposed to sit there and exist so NBC can charge higher carriage fees for their other, more important, channels. CNBC/Univision/USA/SyFy/Bravo etc. are keeping NBCSN in the channel grid.

    Niche programming. F1, IndyCar, NHL and English Premier League have never been known for having massive fanbases in the United States. NBCSN, unlike FOX Sports 1, serves a purpose to those niche markets though. And again, NBCSN has NASCAR and over five million guaranteed viewers on the way.

  54. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    whatever bias AJAM has, it’s very subtle

    That is the most dangerous type. The type that goes past most people.

  55. That is the most dangerous type. The type that goes past most people.

    I can tell you exactly where AJAM gets in to advocacy.

    Enjoy Fox News.

  56. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Enjoy Fox News.

    And you enjoy “The Place for Politics.”

  57. Oh and lonestar, AJAM DOES broadcast in HD. The providers just don’t carry it. I can pull up a high definition Al Jazeera America stream on my laptop right now.

  58. ^ Ok. Well, I have DirecTV and they don’t carry it in HD. And, they moved the station a while back so I assumed they dropped it. But, found it again today. I’ll prolly check it out but I have a hard time watching anything in non HD.

  59. I have DirecTV at the cabin and Time Warner Cable at home. Neither has AJAM in HD.

  60. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    I never looked to see if mine had it or not.

  61. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Comcast has it at 347. Listed as “Current” in the directory.

  62. I watched a bit of the AJAM SOTU “special”.

    When they got to a “commercial break” there were no commercials: two blurbs for AJAM and a public service piece for Habitat for Humanities. Even if you are just pretending you want to make a profit… that’s a problem.

    Then, because they can, a jog around the would to heads wearing stylish scarves, except the head of a guy in Cuba, asking what those countries thought of the speech. A bit odd as the speech just finished. Finally back to studio with John Siegenthraler chatting with former Clinton speech writer lady with a hair helmet. Never seen her before. Tedious. Enough.

    Larry sample #4 : yuck

  63. “World” not “Would”

  64. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Al Jazeera America newscast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS4v_kj9rw4

  65. That is the most dangerous type. The type that goes past most people.

    In the case of the US viewing audience it probably doesn’t matter because most don’t give a flying fig what happens in the rest of the world anyways. Or at least that’s what the surveys say…

  66. survey of young people says most aren’t interested in news anywhere, even at home.

  67. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    That is the most dangerous type. The type that goes past most people.

    In the case of the US viewing audience it probably doesn’t matter because most don’t give a flying fig what happens in the rest of the world anyways. Or at least that’s what the surveys say…

    Unfortunately, you’re right.

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