Al Jazeera America
Burdened by a brand name that "still arouses deep suspicions," Al Jazeera hopes to win over Americans with "fact-based" news reporting, reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times (8/19/13). Many Americans think of Al Jazeera as the television network that "broadcast messages from Osama Bin Laden" in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. As it extends its reach into "about 48 million of the … roughly 100 million homes that subscribe to television" in America, Al Jazeera is promising an entirely different kind of television-news experience.
"There will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings," says Ehab Al Shihabi of Al Jazeera America. Instead, the channel will offer a more substantive approach, "a PBS-like news channel 24 hours a day … With a staff of 900, including 400 newsroom employees, it is one of the most significant investments in television journalism in modern times." Its anchors will include familiar faces, such as John Seigenthaler, Joie Chen and Antonio Mora – veterans of NBC, CBS and ABC news, respectively.
Given Al Jazeera’s investment of "hundreds of millions of dollars" in the new channel, Bob Meyers of the National Press Foundation, sees the venture as potentially "transformative," comparing it to the launch of CNN, Bloomberg News and Politico. One hurdle is a lack of "major advertisers," however Ehab Al Shihabi frames this as a plus for viewers. "No cluttering the news with commercials," he says. The channel will have just "six minutes an hour" of commercials, "compared with more than 15 minutes an hour on other news channels." Al Jazeera America is set to launch on August 20th.