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Al Jazeera

On One-Year Anniversary, Al Jazeera America President Kate O’Brian Thanks Staff

Kate O'Brian 2014On Al Jazeera America’s one-year anniversary, network president Kate O’Brian wrote a memo to staff noting their success so far.

We came with a mission to cover the most important stories of the world in the way that Al Jazeera has been doing it around the globe for years—actively and with depth, with humanity and courage, and without opinion or punditry. And we came with the goal of bringing these compelling and important stories, from the US and from around the world, to the American audience. My friends, I believe we have succeeded.And so, ultimately, this anniversary is about you. Each one of you. Without your extraordinary work this past year we would not have been able to create what we have—a growing, thriving 24/7 news channel. This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey.

O’Brian stresses the network hasn’t reached all of its goals: “We have more work to do — but I know we have the drive and dedication to do it.”

Her full note after the jump.

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Al Jazeera Rejects Al Gore’s Lawsuit: ‘Lawyer-Driven Public Relations’

Al-Jazeera-America304Al Jazeera came out strongly today against former Vice President Al Gore‘s lawsuit against the network.

Reuters reports the network is rejecting Gore’s claims that they owe former Current TV shareholders millions of dollars in escrow funds.

Al Jazeera, which bought Current TV for about $500 million, said the Gore-Hyatt group had promised to indemnify Al Jazeera if, after the sale, the company was sued for breach of any contracts while Gore and Hyatt ran the channel. Third parties contend that Current TV had breached contracts while the group ran the channel, Al Jazeera America said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that assurances by Gore and Hyatt that Current TV’s contract compliance were “inaccurate.” “Rather than indemnifying Al Jazeera as they were required to do, Gore and Hyatt have resorted to a preemptive lawsuit and lawyer-driven public relations maneuvers,” Al Jazeera said. David Boies, the attorney representing Gore and Hyatt, said last week the group asked the court to order Al Jazeera America to “stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.” Al Jazeera countered that the money in the fund was intended to indemnify Al Jazeera. It also said indemnification claims were more than the amount held in escrow.

Today marks Al Jazeera America’s one-year anniversary.

Al Gore Suing Al Jazeera Over Current TV Sale

GoreBloomberg reports former Vice President Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera over the $500 million deal to purchase his former network Current TV in 2013.

“Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” David Boies, a lawyer for Gore, said in a statement today. “We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”

“Our outside counsel is reviewing the complaint,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson tells TVNewser. “We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America. We may have further comment once they’ve fully reviewed everything.”

Al Jazeera America marks its one-year anniversary this coming Wednesday.

Al Jazeera America Crew Says it was Fired Upon in Ferguson

AJAMCrewTearGas

A crew from Al Jazeera America was setting up for a live shot in Ferguson, MO, around 10:30 last night, when police tear gas canisters landed near them. The network also says police fired rubber bullets in their direction and continued to shoot after the crew “clearly and repeatedly shouted ‘press.’”

They were setting up for a live shot for the international channel covering the latest in the violence surrounding the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

“Al Jazeera America is stunned by this egregious assault on freedom of the press that was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on our ability to cover this important story,” AJAM spokesperson Jocelyn Austin says. “Thankfully all three crew members are physically fine.”

The network wants the incident investigated.

JournalistsFergusonTwo other reporters covering the chaos were arrested last night. Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery says he was slammed into a soda machine, handcuffed and arrested. He was released later on the order of Ferguson’s police chief. The Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly says an officer arresting him slammed his head against the glass at a restaurant near the site of the Brown shooting.

“RTDNA condemns the physical violence and unjustified arrest of the journalists, and demands authorities respect the rights of reporters covering the unfolding situation in Missouri,” RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender wrote to the city’s police chief this morning. After the jump, Cavender’s letter, which also went to the governor and the attorneys general of Missouri and the U.S…

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Al Jazeera America CEO on Channel’s First Anniversary: ‘We Have Accomplished A Lot’

ehab al shihabiIn a note to Al Jazeera America staff this afternoon about the channel’s upcoming one-year anniversary, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi said staffers “have accomplished a lot” over the past 12 months. “I am proud to say that both our internal culture and our reporting reflect the diversity of today’s world,” Al Shihabi wrote. “…Now, after one year, we must continue our work.”

Every day, we must deliver on our brand promise – providing accurate, in-depth, unbiased news stories that aren’t covered elsewhere, and that respect the diversity of today’s world. Aljazeera is known internationally for captivating content that reveals the human impact of today’s top news events, and we will evolve in order to meet those expectations and grow our audience.

I know there has been a lot of talk about ratings. Let’s put things in perspective. Other cable news networks have been on television for decades — we’re a year old. We’re still growing our brand awareness as well as our distribution, which is a little more than half of all U.S. cable homes.

But ratings only tell part of the story about Aljazeera America.  Read more

Al Jazeera America Takes Victory Lap for Israel-Gaza Coverage

AJAMAdAl Jazeera America has produced a new :30 second promotional spot about the network’s continuing coverage in Gaza, which has given the network a ratings boost recently. The promo begins airing today and will run all week on competing news networks including CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

The spot will run on 18 different networks in New York and New Jersey markets served by Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS, but not Comcast which owns NBC/MSNBC.

Watch it after the jump…

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Al Jazeera America Weighing More Layoffs

Al-Jazeera-America304During a meeting last week, Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi announced the network is considering additional layoffs.

“Like any television network we make decisions based on our programming schedule,” a network spokesperson tells TVNewser. “We’re always looking at our staffing levels. We have a staff of over 800.”

We’re hearing that 20 positions may be cut. In April, AJAM laid off dozens of staffers, mostly from its sports and business units.

Last week, the network said it saw a 30 percent spike in ratings over the previous two weeks as the Gaza conflict waged. AJAM marks its one-year anniversary on August 20.

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.

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

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