Al-Jazeera America is scheduled to begin broadcasting tomorrow (Tuesday 8/20). The cable channel will reach about forty million U.S. households. Time Warner Cable subscribers won’t have access to it; at least not yet.
It’ll probably take awhile for the Al-Jazeera America audience to build up, with the name being such a red flag (that’s putting it mildly). But hopefully, millions of Americans are longing for the in-depth unbiased news coverage that Al-Jazeera America is promising. The linked article describes their news coverage as “long-form reporting of stories ignored by mainstream media.”
Al-Jazeera already owns Current TV, which also set off the predictable blubberings on the Far Right when that purchase was made.
Ehab Al Shihabi, interim chief executive of Al-Jazeera America, said:
“We know Americans want in-depth coverage of the news that matters to them. They want more unbiased coverage and less opinion, that’s what Al-Jazeera is about.”
He thinks the channel’s audience will increase when word gets around about the quality of their reporting. He said surveys have shown that “75 percent of people who did not watch Al-Jazeera came on the negative side and 90 percent of those who watch Al-Jazeera came on the positive side.”
Kate O’Brian, president of Al-Jazeera America, said the channel will “stay away from pundits and crazy celebrity news” while “covering all the stories that need to be covered. Our success is how well we tell the stories. We will get people talking about the channel and wanting the channel.”
Another selling point: Al-Jazeera America will only have six minutes of advertising per hour. Fifteen minutes per hour is the average. (I could have sworn it was a lot more than that.)
Joie Chen, an Al-Jazeera journalist who was formerly with CNN and CBS, said she was drawn to the channel because of “the quality work they were doing.”
“I wanted to be able to participate in the story telling. I did not want to be a news reader. We are not focused on the size of the audience, we are focused on the quality of the reporting. We want to tell stories that are currently underreported.”
Labels: Al-Jazeera America