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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.

Dear Al Jazeera America Colleagues,

As we prepared for our launch over the past year we set ambitious and aggressive goals. In the seven months since launch we have built a channel that it took other networks years to do. As you all know, that required extensive effort, planning and resources. We always understood that we would need considerable resources to meet our goals. We never wavered in our commitment because we knew that a surge in our capacity was essential to a successful launch of Al Jazeera America.

As a result of this extensive planning and investment, we met our own deadlines. We should all be very proud of what has been built in such a short time. Now it is time to set our sights on new goals, requiring different levels and areas of investment and resources. We have reached what I will call our 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.

This will have an immediate impact on some staff, freelancers, independent contractors, and other project-oriented individuals who have been with us for several months. Those that are effected have been sent a note with information on meeting their supervisors and HR representatives later today. These colleagues have provided a valuable service to us for which we are deeply grateful.

On behalf of the entire senior management team, I’d like to thank our departing staff and freelancers for all the work they did to get AJAM up and running.

You will recall Ehab’s letter last month where he affirmed the long-term commitment to Al Jazeera America. We have more than 800 staff around the country and I hope you are seeing that we’re continuing to build a strong distribution network. Our relationships with distributors, advertisers, and the media industry as a whole are strong. In addition, we are working to be a part of the community everywhere we operate.

We are continuing to build a sustainable and high-performing news organization in the tradition of the Al Jazeera Media Network. And it all starts and ends with the journalism. Our recent awards are a testimony to the high level of work Al Jazeera America is producing, day in and day out. I’m proud to work with you.

Kate

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