Archive for the Al Jazeera Category

Inside Al Jazeera America’s Final Days…

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 22, 2016 by icn2

CNN’s Brian Stelter and Tom Kludt pen a must read on the last days of Al Jazeera America…

The newsroom had turned a corner, but the business had not. Costly mistakes made at launch in 2013 were adding up fast while ratings were not growing fast enough. The channel’s distributors were dissatisfied. And falling oil prices were testing the patience of Al Jazeera’s parent, the oil-rich emirate of Qatar. Al Jazeera Media Network director general Mostefa Souag had to reduce costs in a serious way.

Souag singled out AJAM. Doha — that’s the way the channel’s employees refer to its owner, by naming Qatar’s capital city — “decided that it was not going to continue to write checks for hundreds of millions of dollars,” a senior executive said.

The decision was handed down to AJAM’s board of directors meeting shortly after the New Year’s holiday. The directors gathered for an emergency meeting on Monday, January 11; some huddled at an attorney’s office in Manhattan while others, like Souag, joined via video conference from Doha.

The last time they’d met, in late August, the directors heard an optimistic pitch from new AJAM CEO Al Anstey about the channel’s next five years. This time Anstey spoke briefly, then left the meeting. The channel’s president Kate O’Brian, who usually spoke about editorial matters at board meetings, was not invited.
The question before the board was how, exactly, to unwind the channel, given that the cash spigot was shutting off. Several alternatives were talked about, including a possible conversion to a lower-cost streaming TV channel for cord-cutters. Someone even joked about giving the channel back to Al Gore, who had profited handsomely by selling the channel that became AJAM three years earlier.

But the board members concluded that there was only one viable option: a complete shut-down.


Al Jazeera America is Dead…

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 13, 2016 by icn2

The Al Jazeera America experiment is over

Breaking: Al Jazeera America, the U.S. arm of the Qatar-based news network, is shutting down. The plan is to wind down the network, with a final on air date of April 30.

Al Jazeera America launched in August, 2013 after the global parent company acquired Current TV in January, 2013. Al Jazeera paid $500 million for the network, which included former VP Al Gore as an owner. Soon after the acquisition Time Warner Cable pulled Current TV from its lineup, an indication of the trouble AJAM would have getting carriage across the country.

The mood is, understandably, somber this afternoon as employees await a full staff meeting with human resources. One source tells TVNewser the company is offering generous severance packages.

Another Ex – Al Jazeera America Staffer Lawsuit

Posted in Al Jazeera on June 11, 2015 by icn2

CNN’s Tom Kludt writes about another lawsuit filed by a former Al Jazeera America staffer. This is one I would keep an eye on because of who filed it. Longtime blog readers…if there are any still out there (Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?)…will recognize the name Shannon High as one this blog regularly took shots at in the late 2000s. She went from MSNBC to CNN where she EP’d CNN’s 6am morning show. Regardless of what I thought of High’s accomplishments, particularly while at MSNBC, there is no doubt in my mind that High is a network veteran who wants to stay in the game. Network vets who want to stay in the game don’t file lawsuits like this. Whatever indignation may have happened, they bite hard and move on to the next job.

So the fact that a person like High filed this suit says a lot to me.

According to High-Bassalik, Al Shihabi admitted that he pushed for the channel to embrace a pro-Arabic viewpoint because he believed it would “please Doha,” a reference to the Qatari capital that serves as the home to Al Jazeera Media Network.

High-Bassalik claims that when she and others complained about these orders, arguing that AJAM’s cable contracts in the United States required the channel to remain neutral, Al Shihabi raised his voice and said that anyone who objected would no longer be welcome at the company. He responded to such objections by saying that the company “was not Al Jazeera America but ‘Al Jazeera in America,'” according to the complaint.

High-Bassalik’s complaint includes many of the same allegations in the lawsuit filed against AJAM earlier this year by Matthew Luke, the channel’s former director of media and archive management who was also fired in February.
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New CEO At Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 6, 2015 by icn2

After all the negative press hit the internet, it became an open question of whether Ehab Alshihabi’s position as interim CEO of Al Jazeera America was tenable. This afternoon Al Jazeera America announced that Al Anstey is the new CEO of the network.

PRESS RELEASE: Al Jazeera Media Network appoints Al Anstey as new CEO of Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera Media Network has appointed Al Anstey as CEO of Al Jazeera America with immediate effect. Anstey replaces interim CEO Ehab Alshihabi who was responsible for launching Al Jazeera America in 2013.

Anstey joined Al Jazeera in 2005 and has held a range of leadership positions with the organization, most recently serving as Managing Director of Al Jazeera English since 2010. Previously Al was Director of News for AJE, in charge of the news division and the editorial content. Al was a key member of the start-up team of AJE that designed the editorial vision, recruited AJE’s editorial staff, and set up AJE’s worldwide bureau network.

During his tenure as Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, the channel became a leader in international news winning a range of awards for its journalism including an International Emmy, the Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year award, and other international awards. Under Anstey’s leadership the channel is now accessible to over 250 million households across the globe in over 130 countries.
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Al Jazeera America In Trouble…

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 6, 2015 by icn2

The New York Times’ John Kolbin writes about Al Jazeera America…

Almost two years later, the ratings have not come, nor have the profits. The station has been a nonfactor in news, drawing about 30,000 viewers a night. To make matters worse, in the last week, a lawsuit and an exodus of top executives have brought to the surface a series of grievances that employees say reflects a deep dysfunction in management of the newsroom, undermining the network’s mission.

The control room at Al Jazeera America in New York. A lawsuit and the exit of top executives have led to reports of conflict. Credit Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
“I didn’t want to be there anymore because I didn’t like the culture of fear,” said Marcy McGinnis, the network’s former senior vice president for news gathering, who resigned on Monday. “People are afraid to lose their jobs if they cross Ehab.”

Ms. McGinnis, who most recently served as Al Jazeera America’s senior vice president for outreach, said that the newsroom was in total “disarray behind the scenes,” a view echoed by almost a dozen current and former employees interviewed.

Ms. McGinnis, who formerly worked at CBS News, was the third top Al Jazeera official in the last week to announce a departure. On Thursday, the chief of human resources, Diana Lee, and the executive vice president for communications, Dawn Bridges, resigned. On the same day, a former employee sued the company, claiming he had been fired after he complained to human resources about a powerful colleague. The complaint contains accusations of anti-Semitism, sexual discrimination and episodes of retribution against employees.

Al Jazeera America Announces New Ali Velshi Program…

Posted in Al Jazeera on April 17, 2015 by icn2

Al Jazeera America announced a new public affairs show for Ali Velshi today…


NEW YORK, April 17, 2015 – Al Jazeera America announced today that the channel is launching a new nightly, half-hour current affairs program hosted by award-winning journalist Ali Velshi entitled, “Ali Velshi on Target.” The program debuts May 11, 2015 and will air weeknights on Al Jazeera America at 10:30pm ET/7:30pm PT.

Capitalizing on Velshi’s experience as a pre-eminent global financial journalist, economic commentator and financial author, “Ali Velshi on Target” will speak truth to power through debate, in-depth interviews, expert analysis and on-the-ground reporting. Each evening on Al Jazeera America, Velshi and his team of experts will provide context and analysis around current political and economic issues. Acting as an advocate on his viewers’ behalf, Velshi will ask the difficult questions that need to be answered and, in the interest of his viewers, pursue justice and solutions with equal vigor.

“’Ali Velshi on Target’ will be exactly what the name says: pointed and focused on people and policies that stand in the way of prosperity and a better life, especially for those who can’t fight entrenched interests by themselves,” said Velshi. “We’ll shine a light on bad decisions and the decision makers behind them.”

“Ali Velshi on Target” will include daily segments focused on signature themes, including implications of the global economic situation for America, America’s crumbling infrastructure, gaps in wealth, race and gender, and the influence of special interest groups in politics and the economy, especially as they affect the prospects of Americans who are struggling economically and politically.
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White House Correspondents Profile…

Posted in Al Jazeera, CNN, FNC, MSNBC on March 31, 2015 by icn2

Washington Life Magazine’s Virginia Coyne profiles a group of White House correspondents. Among them are several cable newsers including CNN’s Jim Acosta, FNC’s Ed Henry, NBC/MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, and Al Jazeera America’s Mike Viqueira. The story on the website is in-line PDF only so no quotes are coming since I’m wayyyy too lazy to transcribe it.