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Al Jazeera

Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalist: ‘The Prosecutors Should be in the Cage’

The trial of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt was adjourned again yesterday. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, who have been in jail for 156 days on charges of aiding a terrorist group, were returned to their cells after a brief hearing.

“Members of the technical committee could not recall one example of what they believed was fabricated coverage from the Al Jazeera team. They also could not proffer an opinion on how national security of Egypt was endangered either,” Al Jazeera reports of the proceedings.

A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, has been held since last August. He has been on a hunger strike since January.

Al Jazeera continues to reject the charges against the journalists and call for their release. [h/t HuffPo Media]

Soledad O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group At Work on Docs For CNN, Al Jazeera America

Soledad_OBrienAs Soledad O’Brien‘s production company celebrates its first anniversary, the former CNN anchor is working on several documentaries that will air on cable news, including three for her former network.

At an event celebrating the the Starfish Media Group milestone, O’Brien told a group of reporters that she finds her current projects — documentaries for CNN and Al Jazeera America, as well as a correspondent role for HBO’s “Real Sports” — “really fascinating.”

For CNN, Starfish is producing specials on veterans struggling with PTSD, New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” program and the Washington Corrections Center for Women, which allows incarcerated women to keep their children in prison until they are three. For Al Jazeera, O’Brien’s group is producing two documentaries — a look at a new model of “therapeutic justice” for teenagers in prison and a special on heroin use in America.

The long-form docs the production group is working on will all premiere this year.

Cable News Networks’ Memorial Day Specials

memorialday304The cable news networks will air a slew of specials this Memorial Day Weekend.

Megyn Kelly‘s “Kelly File” investigation into the VA Scandal airs at 9pmET tomorrow night. Kelly speaks with veterans and military experts about VA problems dating back to 2008.

Then at 10pmET, Greta Van Susteren hosts “Fox News Reporting: D-Day +70 Secrets Revealed.” Van Susteren reveals secrets behind the Normandy invasion and sheds light on Britain’s attempt to trick Adolph Hitler.

Tonight at 10pmET, Geraldo Rivera hosts “O.J. Simpson At 20.”. He’ll have an exclusive interview with Kato Kaelin, who lived in Simpson’s guest house at the time of Nicole Brown Simpson‘s murder and testified at Simpson’s murder trial. Rivera will also look back at top moments from the so-called trial of the century.

MSNBC will also have special coverage of the VA scandal. Former congressman and Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy will host “Taking the Hill” at 1pmET Sunday; he’ll interview former Senator and Vietnam War veteran Max Cleland on the latest developments in the VA controversy. In the same hour, MSNBC will air the seventh installment of “Wounded: The Battle Back Home.”

Fox Business will air a “War Stories with Oliver North” marathon on Memorial Day, airing 16 episodes from 9amET-1amET. Episodes include stories from Normandy, Korea and Afghanistan.

And Al Jazeera America will run back-to-back episodes of “Borderland” Monday from 11am- 4pmET. The four-episode series is an immersive documentary in which six average Americans retrace the footsteps of migrants who died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border

Questionable Photo, Australian Song Presented as Evidence Against Al Jazeera Journalists

In their ninth court appearance since being imprisoned in Egypt in December, Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed had a new string of questionable evidence presented against them by prosecutors.

A photo showing Fahmy standing behind former Egyptian military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was presented, but didn’t pass the eye test among court reporters.

Other audio and video evidence presented was said to have been uncovered from Greste’s possessions, which the Australian journalist denied. One piece of evidence, oddly enough, was a song by Australian musician Gotye; other evidence shown were recordings of conversations between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and protest photos against former Egyptian army commander, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The journalists have been jailed for nearly 5 months.

Al Jazeera America President: ‘We Don’t Do Pundits, We Don’t Do Yak-Yak-Yak’

al jazeera americaAl Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi and president Kate O’Brian talked about the state of the network at a Paley Center breakfast panel Tuesday. Broadcasting & Cable has details:

[...] At 55 million U.S. homes, the network lacks scale comparable to all-news peers like CNN and Fox News, though O’Brian said she doesn’t consider the all-news nets true competitors. “We don’t do pundits, we don’t do yak-yak-yak,” she said. Mitchell noted the network had minimal coverage of the lost Malaysian jet, a story CNN feasted on for weeks, to the dismay of critics but to viewers’ apparent satisfaction.

One potential hurdle to Al Jazeera America’s growth is its name, which for some too closely links it to the media conglomerate controlled by the government of Qatar. Al Shihabi asserted the company is “very proud of the name. It has a brand value.” Masking the affiliation with parent Al Jazeera Media with another name could confuse viewers and the marketplace. And given “the strong firewall between the funding and editorial,” he said there was no point trying to start a new brand from scratch.

Anthony Bourdain’s Peabody Award for Making ‘Some Pretty Strange and Fun Television’

BrokawPeabodyAnthony Bourdain is grateful for the Peabody Award which was presented to his CNN show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” today. But he tells TVNewser he leaves the programming, ratings and other network matters to others.

“I’m grateful that, for whatever reason, CNN has chosen to allow us the budget, the resources, and the support to go out and make some pretty strange and fun television,” Bourdain told TVNewser on the red carpet of the 73rd annual ceremony this afternoon. “Who’s watching it, whether males, 25-30, I frankly just don’t much give a f*ck.”

“I make the show. I’m glad that anyone’s looking at it,” said Bourdain, who is among several hosts taking over CNN’s 9pm timeslot starting tonight.

“CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose also took home a Peabody Award for his interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This was the height of a very big story,” Rose said about his September interview which took place two weeks after a deadly chemical weapons attack in Damascus. “This was a man who thought at anytime, the Americans, along with their allies, might make a decision to attack.”

Tom Brokaw, who also spoke with us about his battle with cancer, accepted his personal Peabody on behalf of hundreds of others over the years who’ve helped him report meaningful TV from around the world. “I had wonderful colleagues, some of who are no longer with us unfortunately,” Brokaw told us. “You don’t do this on your own. You get to where you are when

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Journalists Kicked Out of Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalists’ Trial

Three weeks ago, three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt had their pleas for release denied by a judge; today journalists covering their case were kicked out of the courtroom.

The expelled journalists who hung around were eventually let back in the courtroom under the order they don’t speak with the imprisoned journalists–who are locked in cages during the trial–when courtroom recess take place.

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Layoffs at Al Jazeera America

Al-Jazeera-America304As it nears eight months on-air, Al Jazeera America is laying off a few dozen staff employees, as well as freelance employees, with the majority of cuts coming from the sports and business units, TVNewser has learned.

In an email to staff we obtained, network President Kate O’Brian said the network has reached a “steady-state level of operations, and we are bringing our staffing levels into alignment with our long-range plan as per our original business case.”

“As a result, certain parts of our organization will expand or contract and staff levels and resources will be recalibrated.”

The network has struggled in the ratings to date, and O’Brian told us last year that “our ratings will come as people are watching.”

O’Brian’s full email to staff after the jump.

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Cable News Takes Home Social Media Shorty Awards

Sarah JonesTVNewser was at last night’s Shorty Awards in New York City, where both MSNBC and Al Jazeera America won awards for their respective social media activities. Our sister site Lost Remote has the full awards recap.

MSNBC.com won the best use of social media for news category, awarded for their Google+ Hangout series on marriage equality. The network beat Al Jazeera America’s social media show, “The Stream,” and The Guardian’s #AskSnowden social campaign, where NSA-leaker Edward Snowden answered reader questions.

We caught up with Executive Editor for MSNBC.com Richard Wolffe after their victory was announced. “For a short person, winning a Shorty is a big deal,” Wolffe joked to TVNewser, adding his take on the success of the social campaign. “You have Andrea Mitchell talking on-air about people she had spoken with on these hangouts…and that was very cool, seeing that integration of digital, and TV, and social media with really respected, experienced journalists.

Al Jazeera America won two awards: best news twitter and best social media journalist; the latter awarded to AJAM deputy news editor, Sarah Jones (pictured above). During her acceptance speech, Jones thanked all those on social media who support under-reported news, and added a request.

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John Seigenthaler, ‘What’s Your Show?’

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In the latest installment of MediabistroTV’s “What’s Your Show?” we take you inside Al Jazeera America’s primetime newscast with John Seigenthaler, which airs at 8pmET weeknights.

The mission is quite “radical,” Seigenthaler tells TVNewser: to provide unbiased, in-depth journalism for AJAM’s audience. The production of the newscast takes place in AJAM’s newsroom; a former bank turned into a bustling news start-up.

And the producers who make up this start-up take pride in offering cable viewers something different, specifically more international and under-reported stories.

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