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.

Al Jazeera America to Expand Live Newscasts…

Posted in Al Jazeera on March 25, 2015 by icn2

Al Jazeera America announced an expansion of Live news today…


Network Reinforces Commitment to Presenting Live News from the U.S. and Around the Globe with Increased Hours of Coverage Weekdays

NEW YORK, NY, March 25, 2015 – Today, Al Jazeera America announced that the channel will present more hours of live news programming, from more locations with more resources, beginning this coming Monday, March 30th.

Each weekday starting at 6am ET until 12 noon ET, Al Jazeera America will present a live morning news block hosted by a rotating roster of the channel’s anchors and reporters. The updated morning news brings viewers an additional two hours of content from Al Jazeera America’s headquarters in New York City, and will be interwoven with live news broadcasts from Al Jazeera studios in Doha and London, the network’s 82 bureau locations and field reporters around the world. The new format continues the in-depth coverage and fact-based information that Al Jazeera America is known for, while offering even more continuous, real-time news coverage.
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More Trouble for Al Jazeera English…

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 27, 2015 by icn2

NewsBuster’s Curtis Houck writes about another leaked Al Jazeera email that paints the network in a less than favorable light…

On Tuesday afternoon, Brendan Bordelon of National Review Online (NRO) reported on the latest leaked email from Al Jazeera English that showed executive Carlos van Meek telling employees not to sure the terms “extremist,” “Islamist,” “militant,” and “terrorist” in their news coverage to “avoid characterizing people.”

Van Meek’s email came following a deadly shooting earlier in the day at a hotel in Libya that killed at least eight (including one American). Writing to the outlet’s New York and Washington newsrooms, van Meek felt that it was pertinent to “bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up” considering “[o]ne person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.” –

Al Jazeera America’s SOTU Coverage Plans

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 19, 2015 by icn2

Here’s Al Jazeera America’s SOTU coverage plans…


Live Coverage from NY and DC Explores Issues Including Race Relations, Immigration, Extremism, Economy, Education, and Jobs– AJAM to Also Deliver Reaction from Around the Globe

Al Jazeera America will offer in-depth news and analysis on the State of the Union address live from New York and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20, from 7pm- midnight ET. Primetime anchor John Seigenthaler will broadcast live from NY along with Al Jazeera America anchors Tony Harris, Ray Suarez and White House correspondent Mike Viqueira along with NYU Professor of Campaign Management Jeanne Zaino. The network will air special State of the Union programming focusing on major issues facing the nation and the world including: global extremism after the Paris massacre, the economy, gridlock politics, race relations after Ferguson, and immigration.
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Press Releases: 01/15/15

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 15, 2015 by icn2

Al Jazeera America (1)

Al Jazeera America’s “FAULT LINES” Presents “Hidden State: Inside North Korea”

Airing Monday, January 19th at 9pm ET/6pm PT

“North Korea is still a flashpoint. We’re still at a state of war with North Korea.”

–Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani, President of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA)

“This talk about the human rights problems of our country, this is slander coming from the U.S. and South Korean puppets that has been taken wholesale and repeated by those who do not know our actual reality.”
— Kim Chang Gyong (North Korea Academy of Social Sciences, DPRK)

This Monday, January 19th at 9pm ET/6p PT, Al Jazeera’s Emmy Award-winning “Fault Lines” presents “Hidden State: Inside North Korea.” In fall 2014, “Fault Lines” was granted rare access inside the regime that is arguably the worst human rights abuser in the world. A reporting team led by correspondent Teresa Bo went to understand what, if anything, has changed since Kim Jung-Un came to power, and how U.S.-North Korean relations look from the other side.
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The Beginning of The End?

Posted in Al Jazeera on January 12, 2015 by icn2

TVNewser’s Brian Flood reports that Al Jazeera America will eliminate all US based live morning news programming.

Al Jazeera America plans to air programming from Al Jazeera’s main studios in Qatar in the mornings, U.S. time. AJAM has been cutting costs drastically, including on costly remotes and live shots. Just last week, the network cut back on the use of a second New Yorks studio.

Al Jazeera will continue to move forward in some capacity but things are not looking good for its US based network.

Al Jazeera America Numbers…

Posted in Al Jazeera on October 29, 2014 by icn2

The Wrap’s Jordan Chariton writes about Al Jazeera America’s ratings…or lack thereof…

Its lineup of journalists hasn’t translated to ratings. When comparing Al Jazeera America’s ratings to date to Current TV’s ratings from December, 2011 to August, 2013, the numbers show significant losses. In total day, AJAM is down 44 percent compared to Current TV; in the 25-54 demo, the channel is down 55 percent. In primetime viewers, AJAM is down 49 percent compared to Current TV; in the primetime demo, down 54 percent.

In its 14 months on-air, AJAM is averaging 14,000 viewers 5,000 demo viewers for total day. In primetime, its averaging 18,000 viewers and 6,000 demo viewers.

Kate O’Brian Interview

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 19, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Alex Weprin interviews Al Jazeera America President Kate O’Brian…

CAPITAL: Is there any type of programming that you think AJAM could be doing more of? I know you have morning programming now, but last year, you were still trying to figure out the morning show strategy. Is there more you want to do to build out the schedule?

O’BRIAN: There is always more, we have a number of things in development that we are looking at piloting, and we are seeing if they are good. It is all about the quality. If the quality is good and compelling, then we will give it a go ahead and you will see it on the schedule at some point. We are also doubling down on what we have right now. It is a pretty full grid of produced content, whether it is the breaking news hours, or the longer form hours. We want to be sure that they are doing the absolute tippy-top quality that we expect them to do.

CAPITAL: There has been some staff restructuring and layoffs over the first year. The sports department I know was affected. Was that focused in specific areas? Do you feel like the news team is structured in a way that is more efficient?

O’BRIAN: We made some choices based on who we are, and what kind of programming people expect to see on our channel, and that we expect to be providing for people. Looking over the year, we made some decisions based on that. Again, every news organization does the same calculus and makes their own decisions based on those things. I think we are in a good place, but we are always looking at improvement. Always. And we would be remiss, and I would be irresponsible, if I weren’t always looking at how to make things better. We are looking at high performance from every sector, and every time of day, and every show.

Al Jazeera America’s One Year Anniversary…

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 6, 2014 by icn2

AJAM CEO Ehab Al Shihabi’s email to staff noting the network’s one year anniversary…

From: Ehab Alshihabi
Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 3:57 PM
Cc: Kate OBrian; Mostefa Souag; Omar Jalal
Subject: Congratulations AJAM on Our One-Year Anniversary

Dear Colleagues,

With many of us away this month, I wanted to stop and take a moment now to reflect upon an important milestone.

Almost one year ago we launched Aljazeera America.

We launched AJAM to bring the uncompromising journalistic ideals of the Aljazeera Media Network to the U.S. market, and to increase our capacity for global newsgathering. We saw a need in the U.S. for unbiased, fact-based, in-depth coverage of domestic and international news, without the punditry, opinion and “infotainment” seen elsewhere. We wanted to extend our brand’s core value: The promise of courageous and provocative coverage of under-reported stories with a focus on the human component. Expanding into the U.S. market was a natural next step for Aljazeera’s global brand.

A year later, I am proud to say that we have delivered on that promise.
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Press Releases: 08/01/14

Posted in Al Jazeera on August 1, 2014 by icn2

Al Jazeera America (1)




NEW YORK AND GAZA CITY – Tonight at 11pm ET, Al Jazeera America will present “Gaza: Witness to War,” an hour-long comprehensive report with breaking news and analysis of the war in Gaza.

The special report will be anchored by Al Jazeera America’s Jerusalem correspondent Nick Schifrin, and will feature reporting from Al Jazeera’s resources in the region. The special broadcast will take viewers into the conflict and introduce them to the Gazans cut off and caught in the crossfire. It will take a closer look at Hamas, its weapons and its tunnels that lead into Israel. And it will show how even in a warzone, there’s an extraordinary desire and ability to preserve everyday life.


Al Jazeera America has provided extensive coverage of the conflict in Gaza, including interviews with experts and analysts representing Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. views of the conflict.

Nick Schifrin has reported on and lived in the region since November. Schifrin’s coverage includes reporting on the thousands of civilians affected by the war, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the violence and the fighting, as well as the presence of fighters and rockets inside residential neighborhoods. He has reported from both sides since the conflict began.
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Not A Propaganda Machine…

Posted in Al Jazeera on July 16, 2014 by icn2

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Scott D. Pierce writes about Al Jazeera America…

“We are the place to go when you want unbiased, high-quality, in-depth news,” said Kate O’Brian, president of Al Jazeera America. “We’re the only broadcast network to offer news in prime time, hosted by John Seigenthaler at [6 MT] every night. It’s news from the around the country and around the globe and how that news affects us here in the U.S.”

And, she insists, AJA does not lean in any direction politically.

“We don’t want to be right-leaning or left-leaning,” O’Brian said. “We don’t want to be taking a position on something. We really want to tell the story of the people that the story is affecting and let the viewer decide.”


Posted in Al Jazeera on July 8, 2014 by icn2

Variety’s Cynthia Littleton writes about Al Jazeera America President Kate O’Brian’s appearance at the TCA…

In the cabler’s first Television Critics Assn. session, O’Brian (pictured) emphasized that the channel is focused on delivering solid, objective journalism with a focus on how major news events, social issues and cultural changes impact everyday people. She noted that the Al Jazeera brand has gained respect in the U.K., Europe and other territories.

“We will get there in this country,” O’Brian told journos Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton. “We will get there by doing what we well do every single day. It will come in time. I firmly believe it will come in time.”

AJA is seen as a linchpin of the parent org’s goal of building a global news org to rival the BBC or CNN in reach and respect. Al Jazeera is funded through the state of Qatar. AJA has so far delivered miniscule ratings, which undoubtedly means there’s no significant advertising revenue to offset considerable startup costs. AJA has hundreds of journos and staffers based in New York and 12 bureaus around the U.S.

AT&T Settles Al Jazeera America Lawsuit…

Posted in Al Jazeera on June 9, 2014 by icn2

Bloomberg’s Jef Feeley and Edmund Lee write that AT&T has settled the Al Jazeera America carriage lawsuit…

The accord will allow Al Jazeera America onto AT&T’s U-verse pay-TV service as part of the settlement, said a person familiar with the accord who asked not to be named because the settlement’s terms were private. The terms of the settlement weren’t outlined in court filings today in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington.

The deal underscores the growing importance to TV distributors of programming networks, even new ones such as Al Jazeera America. The nascent cable news network has faced challenges gaining an audience in the U.S., partly because American audiences remember the channel as the forum for Osama bin Laden’s video messages after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Case For Al Jazeera America…

Posted in Al Jazeera on June 4, 2014 by icn2

The Desert Sun’s Darryl James Jr. makes his case that Al Jazeera America offers a fresh perspective on news…

And what a refreshing change, CNN reincarnated, news reporting as it happens, and an American staff of anchors/reporters who were providing old-school reporting. From all over the world, it appears this group has more reporters in more corners of the world than any other news organization.

I was especially pleased to finally receive a full picture of what is happening in Ukraine, not a three-minute snippet but more than a half- hour to allow extensive reports coming in from Kiev, Russia, east Ukraine, Europe and the United States.

After a couple of days viewing, I felt I had found Nirvana, but truth be told, I was apprehensive about the Arabian connection, muted obviously by the shining faces of the American anchors and reporters.

The Best Cable News Channel?

Posted in Al Jazeera on May 30, 2014 by icn2

Henry Tenenbaum writes on The Huffington Post that Al Jazeera America is the best cable news channel…

In terms of raw numbers, Al Jazeera America’s ratings are dismal. According to Nielsen, an average of 12,000 homes tuned in to Al Jazeera daily during May (which is, encouragingly, a 25 percent increase over February). Al Jazeera is quick to point out that all cable networks had small audiences at start-up. They also say that Nielsen found the network has a higher “composition” of affluent, educated, professional or managerial viewers than their competitors.

As for content, Al Jazeera America is generally engaging, relevant and well-staffed. Anchors and interviewers like Anthony Mora, Ray Suarez, Joie Chen and John Siegenthaler have not succumbed to the breathless breaking news” intonations or the “tell us what we already know” questions. The schedule is a mix of news, analysis, business and investigative documentaries. The network has won two Peabody Awards within its first year of operation.

In short, Al Jazeera America is a News Network, not just a channel with the word “news” in its name.

Lights Out…

Posted in Al Jazeera, BBC World News, CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s Amy Sawitta Lefevre writes about CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera being taken off the air in Thailand…

One of the first actions taken by the generals now running the country was to impose sweeping censorship across the media.

The crackdown on the media appeared to be more vigorous than after the last of Thailand’s frequent coups, in 2006, perhaps, according to some observers, due to greater opposition to the army’s action and a more defiant “blogosphere” online.

“Measures became more aggressive after the coup announcement and now critical opinions are not allowed to be published, broadcast or circulated,” said a television presenter at a state-run station, who declined to be named for fear of breaking the law. “The military have threatened prosecution for any defiance.”

Prayuth’s announcement was followed by bulletins from the army’s own channel, interspersed with patriotic martial music.

Radio and television stations were ordered to suspend normal programming and air only military broadcasts and official content. Media outlets that tried live streaming online through YouTube channels were soon closed.

The blackout extended to foreign broadcasters including CNN, the BBC and Aljazeera. By mid-afternoon on Friday, none were back on air.

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…



Find Al Jazeera America near you:

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)




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…


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.
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