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Al Jazeera

Peter Greste to Appeal Egypt Conviction

peter gresteThe family of jailed Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste has announced they will appeal his conviction on charges that he aided the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The BBC reports the Greste family felt they had “no option but to try to win his freedom through the criminal justice appeal system”:

“At least part of our strength comes from the understanding that this isn’t just about those wrongly convicted in our case. This is about press freedom, about freedom of speech not just in Egypt but globally,” the statement released by the Greste family on Friday said.

“Today we wish to announce we intend to appeal the verdict through the formal channels offered by the Egyptian legal system,” Mike Greste said in Brisbane. “It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.”

Greste and two other Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy  and Baher Mohamed, were sentenced last month to seven years in jail.

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Al Jazeera Reporter on Gaza Bureau Shots: ‘We Were All Startled’

Al Jazeera English correspondent Stefanie Dekker, currently in Gaza, is reporting on the shots fired this morning at the network’s bureau there.

“At one point from the sky through the live position and into the office, which is where the kitchen is, we had a big explosion. So we were all startled and trying to figure out what it was  — maybe someone thought it was an electricity explosion, something like that,” Dekker said. “And then straight after another shot came in. So it was very clear, two very precise shots straight into our building.” Watch:

Yesterday, the Israeli foreign minister said they were working to prevent the Qatar-backed Al Jazeera from operating within its borders. An Al Jazeera spokeperson tells TVNewser the network holds”the Israeli authorities fully responsible” for the shooting.

Gunshots Fired at Al Jazeera’s Gaza Bureau

al jazeera gunshotsJust one day after the Israeli foreign minister said he would try to prevent Al Jazeera from operating in Israel, the network says gunshots were fired at its Gaza bureau:

“Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building”, Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker (pictured), reporting from the bureau in Gaza said. “We are high up in the building so we had a very strong vantage point over the area. But we have evacuated.”

The bureau is situated in a residential area of Gaza City. “Our office building also has many residential apartments. People [are] leaving, panicked. The AP [news agency] also has office there and [has] evacuated.”

Dekker and another Al Jazeera journalist, Nicole Johnston, both referred to the shots as “warning shots” on Twitter.

Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

>Update: “The foreign minister’s comments were a direct threat against us and appear to have been taken as a green light for the targeting of our journalists in Gaza. We hold the Israeli authorities fully responsible. They have put the lives of journalists in danger,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said in a statement.

The full statement is after the jump. Read more

Israeli Foreign Minister: We Will ‘Work to Prevent’ Al Jazeera From Operating in Israel

al-jazeera-650x441Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said today that the country will “work to prevent” Al Jazeera from operating within its borders, the International Business Times reports:

“Qatar ( the Gulf state where Al Jazeera is based)  has turned into a global problem. Al Jazeera is a central pillar of the propaganda apparatus of Hamas,” he said. The news network employs several Israeli journalists. Freedom of the press is enshrined in Israeli law and, according to Anshel Pfeffer, a writer for the liberal daily Haaretz, only the Supreme Court could ban their reports.

Al Jazeera Arabic had earlier reported that Israel had been using phosphorus bombs in east Gaza, which it had pledged to stop using last year. The company is also funded by Qatari owners, who Israel believe to be financing Hamas. It is unknown whether the minister was alluding to the Al Jazeera English or Al Jazeera America arm of the company.

[h/t Mediaite]

Al Jazeera Reporter Overcome With Emotion Unable to Finish Gaza Live Shot

Covering ongoing civilian casualties can take its toll on foreign correspondents. Yesterday, the bloodiest day in the Gaza conflict overcame Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh.

While reporting from Gaza, Al-Dahdouh became stricken with emotion, looking down when it became difficult to continue his reporting. He ultimately walked off camera. Last year, Al-Dahdouh, a Palestinian journalist, won an international media festival award for his reporting in Gaza. Yesterday was the bloodiest day in the ongoing conflict; at least 100 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s ground invasion while 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. Hamas also claimed to have captured an Israeli soldier; a claim Israel’s ambassador to the UN denied.

Al Jazeera America to Cut Remotes, Rein in Costs. ‘Live Shots: mayday!’

Al-Jazeera-America304Al Jazeera America producers are being told to rein in the costs, by thinking twice about booking costly studio time and satellite remotes. TVNewser obtained an email sent by Al Jazeera America SVP of programming David Doss with the subject line, “Live Shots: mayday!”

“We are getting killed budget-wise on live shots,” Doss writes, adding, “we are at a point where you must own these costs.” He also instructs staffers to get satellite and studio costs approved going forward.

“As with any business organization, we look at managing our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson tells TVNewser.

The full email after the jump.

Read more

Despite Poor Ratings, Al Jazeera America President Expects Viewers Will Come

Al-Jazeera-America304As Al Jazeera America approaches its one-year anniversary, network President Kate O’Brian predicts more viewers will start tuning in to the struggling network.

“There will be an inflection point when people realize what Al Jazeera does,” she said yesterday at a press tour for the TV Critics Association. “They won’t want the right-leaning, the left-leaning or the infotainment. They’ll come.”

The Hollywood Reporter reports that O’Brian acknowledged some viewers haven’t tuned in because of the network’s Arabic name and Middle East background, but she still believes success is on the horizon. “It’s a well-respected brand throughout the world. We will get there in America. It will come in time.”

But today, Reuters columnist Jack Schafer explains why viewers are shrugging toward AJAM instead of watching.

Why the antipathy? In some ways, Al Jazeera America has out-CNN’ed the old CNN with its plodding, responsible, in-depth and conventional approach to news. “There’s no real estate for partisan bickering” at Al Jazeera America, wrote USA Today‘s Rem Rieder earlier this year. “Its diet of top national and international stories is a throwback to the story lineup on the network newscasts of decades ago.” The channel’s anchors serve no candy, and no whiskey, either. Al Jazeera America isn’t just the anti-Vice, it’s the anti-Fox, and its sobriety makes PBS’s NewsHour seem like a TV riot in comparison. Is sobriety really the direction Al Jazeera America wants to go? As David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun has written, NewsHour lost 48 percent of its audience between 2005 and 2013, indicating that Al Jazeera America is pursuing a class of viewers that’s headed for extinction.

Egypt’s President Wishes Al Jazeera Journalists Were Never Put on Trial

al jazeera journalists 304For the first time, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has expressed that the trial of three Al Jazeera journalists has had a negative effect on his country, going as far as saying he wishes they weren’t put on trial, the AP reports.

The comments by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to editors of Egyptian media outlets were published late Sunday. They were the first public recognition by Egyptian officials that the case had been damaging to the country’s relations with the international community.

In his remarks published Sunday, he said the case represented one of the foreign policy challenges facing Egypt, but stopped short of saying whether he will issue a clemency. He seemed to be refuting claims that the case is politically motivated, and a reflection of the tension between Egypt and Qatar, the Gulf state that owns the television network. “The verdict issued against a number of journalists had very negative consequences; and we had nothing to do with it,” el-Sissi said, suggesting it was an entirely legal matter. “I wished they were deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial.”

Two weeks ago, the three journalists were found guilty of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced to years in an Egyptian prison. Last week, one of the jailed journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, tweeted he won’t appeal the court’s decision.

Zurawik: Al Jazeera ‘Excels in Covering Killings of Middle East Teens’

al-jazeera-america-carousel-largeIn his latest column, Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik praises Al Jazeera America for its coverage of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. “It was a complex and highly emotional story, and no one on American TV did a better job of telling it than Al Jazeera America, the new kid on the cable news block that will celebrate its first anniversary next month,” Zurawik writes:

It has been a rough year for the organization, with lower ratings than even some of its harshest critics predicted and layoffs in April. But if anyone with an open mind was looking for evidence as to how the presence of Al Jazeera America enriches the landscape of broadcast news and offers viewers the chance to be better informed about the Middle East, it was on display last week.

Al Jazeera America’s coverage was in full swing by 8 p.m. Monday, hours after the bodies were found. It featured correspondent Nick Schifrin reporting from Gaza City on the retaliatory air strikes by the Israeli Air Force. As always, the Al Jazeera cameras gave viewers a sense of being in the street as close to the action as anyone would want to be.

Jailed Al Jazeera Journalist Won’t Appeal

Mohamed Fahmy, the jailed Al Jazeera journalist, won’t appeal his conviction. Fahmy is one of three journalists from the Qatar-based channel found guilty last week of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Today, with the help of his brother, Fahmy tweeted that an appeal would be futile.

Whether he changes his mind or not, the Egyptian judge in Fahmy’s case hasn’t yet filed the guilty verdict, a step needed for the appeals process to begin.

Fahmy also claimed he was being scapegoated.

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