Al Jazeera launches in US

aljazeera-aritcle
Joie Chen. Credit: Al Jazeera America

The New York offices are quiet, with barely a sign of the new owners and the revolution they are promising. But Al Jazeera America’s Tuesday launch into over 40 million homes is potentially the greatest triumph yet for Qatar, and one that could transform the media landscape.

“I can’t tell you how much enthusiasm there is for what we’re doing”, Joie Chen, former CNN and CBS news anchor, told Metro from New York. Chen is just one of an all-star team assembled by AJA – backed by the endless wealth of owners the Qatari royal family – and in many cases poached from rivals.

“We have all been waiting for an opportunity like this”, says Chen, explaining why she joined the broadcaster. “US news is driven by a different mandate – to reach the widest audience with the shallowest coverage. It’s very different here, we are doing in-depth investigations that treat journalism with idealism, and we are telling stories that have been ignored.”

The channel will occupy a more serious niche, according to acting CEO Ehab Al Shihabi, who has promised “less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings. Bureaus are to be established in unglamorous locations such as Tennessee, and there will be less than half the advertising shown by rivals.

The launch is the culmination of a multi-year campaign from the leading Arab broadcaster to get on American airwaves. A decade ago it would have been unthinkable, when Al Jazeera was best known in the US for screening messages from 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The memory remains and the launch has been fiercely opposed. Congressman Tim Murphy has led calls for an investigation, while civil society group Accuracy in Media (AIM) attacked “an unacceptable danger to American citizens by adding to the potential for home-grown Jihadists inspired by Al Jazeera’s inflammatory programming”. An AJA source in New York revealed protests are planned and security is tight.

But Philip Seib, director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, believes the majority will be won over. “People here don’t know where Qatar is but this will demystify the ‘other’. It’s an Arabic logo but Americans on screen, so there’s a bridge that will be constructive”.

Seib added that AJA’s success will also belong to its owners – the Qatari royal family. “They have made a huge investment, and they want to be influential and respected as the dominant voice of the Middle East. Al Jazeera put them on the map, and now they have taken another big step.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."