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Posts Tagged ‘Ehab Al Shihabi’

More Cuts at Al Jazeera America

Al-Jazeera-America304As the year-old network looks to cut costs, Al Jazeera America has parted ways with a correspondent and two executive producers, TVNewser has learned.

Last week, AJAM declined to renew the contract of Miami-based correspondent Natasha Ghoneim. A photographer in the bureau has also resigned. And today, we hear two executive producers were let go.

“We are going to replace the correspondent and camera person who are gone,” a spokesperson tells TVNewser about the Miami changes. “Like any business, we’re always looking at how to most effectively and efficiently deploy our resources and as such looking at costs is a regular exercise, but there aren’t any plans for ‘extreme’ cost-cutting.”

Regarding executive producer cuts, the spokesperson adds: “In an organization of over 800 employees, there may be weeks when a few people leave and weeks when a few people join. As a policy we don’t discuss personnel matters publicly.”

Following cuts in April, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi told staffers in July that more layoffs were possible.

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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 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.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Harris on ‘Unconscionable’ Imprisonment of Colleagues Who Guided Him

Press Freedom

Al Jazeera executives and anchors, global diplomats, and several members of the media gathered this afternoon at the United Nations for a town hall on press freedom. There were also three chairs left empty (pictured above), symbolically held for Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, and Mohamed Fahmy who were found guilty Monday in a courtroom outside Cairo.

“These people were amazing in terms of their knowledge, and their willingness to share what they knew about the region with an American who was coming to the Middle East to learn and report on what was happening,” Al Jazeera America anchor Tony Harris told TVNewser at the event. Harris, a former CNN anchor, met the journalists several years ago when he began anchoring for Al Jazeera English.

“The idea that these guys would be imprisoned right now, essentially fighting for their reputations, fighting for their lives, is just unconscionable to me.”

Egyptian U.N. diplomat Osama Abdelkhalek Mahmoud spoke at the event, but declined to comment on the case, citing Egypt’s constitution. (Egypt’s new president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has also said he will not interfere in the ruling.) Read more

Following Conviction of Journalists, AJAM to Produce Special on Press Freedom

AJASpecialFollowing today’s guilty verdicts in the trial of several Al Jazeera journalists, the network’s American channel will produce a special on the case and on press freedom — or lack of it — around the world.

“War on Truth” airs at 8:30pmET tonight and will be hosted by David Shuster. Shuster will interview Al Jazeera English reporter Sue Turton – another of the AJE journalists sentenced by the Egyptian court. Turton, a British journalist, was sentenced in absentia.

Al Jazeera America’s Jonathan Betz will cover world reaction to the sentencing and Randall Pinkston and Ben Moran will put together a look at other journalists in danger.

“Consider This” at 10 pm with host Antonio Mora will also feature a full hour on press freedom.

Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi will be interviewed on PBS’ “Charlie Rose,” airing tonight.

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.

Al Jazeera Launches Global Day of Action to Free Staffers Jailed in Egypt

al jazeera global day of actionRallies are planned in more than 30 cities today as part of Al Jazeera’s Global Day of Action in solidarity with Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste, and Baher Mohamed, its journalists jailed in Egypt.

Al Jazeera America is collecting images from demonstrations around the world and posting them to a live blog. Heather Allan, the head of newsgathering for the network, is also participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything Q+A about the #FreeAJStaff campaign today.

“Today we invite every believer of free journalism to show solidarity and support for journalists who have been detained, mistreated or stifled in Egypt and elsewhere,” Al Jazeera America interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi wrote in a note to AJAM staff this morning.

Many media outlets around the world have joined the cause: last week, an international group of television executives called for the journalists’ release. The protests are also getting coverage on other networks: on “CBS This Morning” today, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported from London, where protestors in Trafalgar Square released black balloons into the sky as part of the demonstration.

“We are grateful for the support we have been receiving from across the world, from within the journalism profession, and from NGOs, politicians and members of the public,” Shihabi wrote. “The message that these detentions are unjustified is loud and clear.”

Al Jazeera America Now on Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks

As of this morning, al-jazeera-americaAl Jazeera America is on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the second and sixth-largest cable systems, respectively, in the U.S. AJAM is now in 55 million U.S. homes. Its predecessor Current TV was in 48 million homes as of August. Al Jazeera America went live in October.

By contrast, CNN is in 98 million homes, Fox News is in 97 million, MSNBC 94 million and BBC America is in 80 million U.S. homes.

Time Warner Cable had carried Current TV, but on January 2, the day Al Jazeera announced it was acquiring Current, TWC dropped the channel.

“We are very pleased that Time Warner Cable has agreed to include us in their lineup,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America’s interim CEO. “As always, we remain committed to providing in-depth, unbiased journalism and we’re excited to work with Time Warner Cable to make our channel available to their customers.”

The addition makes Al Jazeera America more widely available in the nation’s two largest markets. In Manhattan, Al Jazeera America is on the digital tier channel 785. In Los Angeles, it’s on standard channel 227 and HD channel 445.

Time Warner Cable, Al Jazeera America Reach Carriage Agreement

al-jazeera-650x441After months of negotiations, Time Warner Cable has agreed to carry Al Jazeera America. With the deal, the Qatar-owned network will be available in almost 55 million homes, including the two biggest markets, New York and Los Angeles, by the end of the year and reaching other Time Warner Cable markets by March.

“We said in January that we would consider Al Jazeera America. Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available,” Melinda Witmer, executive vice president, chief video and content officer for Time Warner Cable said in a statement.

The news was first reported by the New York Times’ Brian Stelter, who talks to Al Jazeera America’s interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi about the deal:

Mr. Al Shihabi said Al Jazeera, which features American and international news, was in “active negotiations” with other cable and satellite distributors. He said Time Warner Cable’s decision was evidence that “we are providing fact-based, in-depth, independent news.” Read more

Bracing For ‘Impact,’ Al Jazeera America Prepares To Launch

AJAM interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi

Al Jazeera America has a long, tough road ahead.

Ehab Al Shihabi, the interim CEO for the channel, acknowledges as much. Al Shihabi said that according to their market research, 75% of people surveyed that had never seen any Al Jazeera programming had a negative perception of the brand.

There was a silver lining however: among people who saw Al Jazeera programming, 90% had a positive perception of it. “There was a perception, but it wasn’t a reality,” Al Shihabi said.

The channel is embarking on a wide-ranging branding effort, encompassing both an advertising campaign and in-person meetings with politicians, interest groups and community leaders. The push will be in cities where AJAM has carriage, as well as in places it doesn’t.

“We have engaged in this opportunity by taking on a lot of dialogue, so that people understand our mission and journalistic identity,” Al Shihabi said. ”With the heavy public affairs, with the heavy communications, with the heavy dialogue building, I think we can see most of the media coverage and most of the interactions, we can now move it on the positive side.”

Feedback will come quickly, as AJAM is planning to be rated by Nielsen at launch, even though it lost a few million households after acquiring Current TV and taking over its spot on the lineup. There is still a chance it finds space on other cable and satellite operators before launch.

A (Temporary) Home

Al Jazeera America’s New York headquarters sits inside a nondescript entrance on West 34th St. and 8th Avenue, inside the building that houses The New Yorker hotel (while the building does house the hotel, AJAM utilizes the Manhattan Center for services and utilities). There are TV screens on the sidewalk, though they have not been turned on yet, and a gold Al Jazeera America logo is emblazoned into the stone. The first thing you see when you walk in is a blindingly white lobby, while off to the right a security checkpoint looks like it would fit right in at a small airport.

Up a flight of stairs, the newsroom itself is vast, covering two floors (see photos in the slideshow below), with 150 or so desks flanked by 40 foot marble columns, while the walls are covered with flatscreen monitors and clocks. Natural light flows in through full-height frosted windows, a stark contrast to the cold, dark newsrooms at some other channels.

“It used to be a bank depository, and as I understand it was in quite decrepit shape,” Paul Eedle, Al Jazeera’s director of programming said on a tour this morning.

While it is now far from decrepit, the space is only slated to be temporary. Eedle says a search is underway to find a permanent home for all of AJAM’s New York staff. At the moment the network also uses Current TV’s old studio space on 33rd street, where Ali Velshi‘s program will originate. Eedle hopes to move to a permanent space in two years.

An Undercovered Mission

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