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Posts Tagged ‘Soledad O’Brien’

Soledad O’Brien on Al Jazeera America: ‘The Work That They’re Doing is Quality’

Soledad_OBrienIn Mediabistro’s latest “So What Do You Do?” interview, Soledad O’Brien opens up about the state of journalism, her former roles at CNN and NBC News, and her production company, Starfish Media. She also weighs in on Al Jazeera America, where she is a special correspondent:

I think every news organization can learn from another news organization that’s doing it well. We’ve been doing some pieces for Al Jazeera — I’m a special correspondent for their America Tonight show — and I think they’ve done a really good job of pushing for a more nuanced approach and storytelling through human beings. I’ve been impressed that they’ve wanted to focus on the story and digging into the truth.

My most recent one took a look at the money that filtered through Haitians having very different experiences trying to rebuild their lives. I think that’s the way to tell those stories, not through Congress people who will be yelling back and forth when they do a hearing on Haiti in a month and a half. So I think Al Jazeera TV has to grow an audience and get carriage, but I think the work that they’re doing is quality.

The Sunday Ticker: O’Brien, Morgan, Henry

  • Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien contributes to CNN, HBO and Al Jazeera America. Now she can add another channel to her résumé: Sundance Channel. O’Brien will appear in an episode of “Dream School” on the channel Monday, working to inspire kids.

  • CNN’s Piers Morgan tells The Guardian that the HBO drama “The Newsroom” is what inspired him to take a stand against the U.S. gun lobby on his primetime program, and in his new book Shooting Straight.

CNN Diversity Chair Stepping Aside

cnn logo_304x200The chairwoman of CNN’s diversity council will be stepping aside from that role, a spokesperson for CNN tells TVNewser.

The chairwoman, Johnita Due, is an assistant general counsel for CNN, and was first named chair of the company’s diversity council in 2005. She will remain with CNN in her role as assistant general counsel, contrary to a report this morning.

CNN says the diversity council is not being disbanded, and a new chairperson will be named soon. Maria Ebrahimji, who also sat on the council, is leaving CNN however. There are a “few dozen” members of the diversity council, a CNN spokesperson says.

CNN president Jeff Zucker has shaken up his executive leadership team since taking over the channel, so changes at the top of internal executive groups like the diversity council are not surprising. Diversity has been a hot topic at CNN since Zucker’s arrival, as a number of prominent minority voices left, such as Soledad O’Brien, Ali Velshi and Mark Whitaker.

That said, Zucker has been very vocal about diversity being an important part of CNN’s DNA, and he met with black and Latino journalists early into his tenure to talk about the issue.

The Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince has more.

Away From Daily News Grind, Soleded O’Brien Continues to Chart New News Path

Soledad O’Brien continues to blaze a trail for what she sees as a new news model — where journalists produce stories for any number of outlets, reporting on things they are passionate about, while immersing themselves in the communities they cover.

Today, along with actor Hill Harper, O’Brien will host the “Let Freedom Ring” 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. O’Brien, who left CNN earlier this year, will end up appearing on all the networks at some point during today’s ceremony.

Tomorrow, O’Brien premieres her sixth installment of “Black in America” at Bishop T.D. Jakes‘ Megafest in Dallas. On Friday, O’Brien will return to CNN to promote “Black in America” on “New Day” — a show which replaced her morning program “Starting Point” a few months ago. She’ll then hit to road again for the People en Espanol festival in San Antonio.

All the while, two of her four children will be in tow. O’Brien phoned in from the top of Toronto’s CN Tower Tuesday — hours before a flight would take her to Washington — part of a 9th birthday trip for twins Charlie and Jackson, which included a Yankees-Blue Jays game (with Derek Jeter keepsakes), and visits with the Toronto Police marine and mounted units.

“What I have really enjoyed is I get to concentrate on the things I am passionate about,” says O’Brien who spent 10 years  at CNN and, before that, 7 years at NBC. “The challenge now is to say ‘no.’ You could book yourself constantly.”

Upon leaving CNN, O’Brien created Starfish Media Group. CNN is now one of her clients. She’s also putting together three stories following a recent trip to Haiti for another client, Al Jazeera America, (O’Brien will also be live on AJAM this morning from Washington) and she’s got two stories in the can for HBO’s “Real Sports.”

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The CNN Ticker: Bourdain, Zuckerberg, Soledad

  • Season two of Anthony Bourdain‘s “Parts Unknown” will debut September 15 on CNN. The show will travel to Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, Spain, South Africa, New Mexico, Detroit and Copenhagen in season two, among other places.

  • “New Day” had a TV exclusive with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this morning. Chris Cuomo asked about his Internet.org project, immigration reform and, well, Facebook. Video after the jump.

  • Soledad O’Brien, who now has deals with HBO and Al Jazeera America, will debut her latest documentary for CNN on August 30. “Great Expectations: A Black in America Special,” will look at the public school system in America. See the preview here.

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John Seigenthaler: Al Jazeera America Will Be ‘Very Different’ Than Cable News Competition

The news that Al Jazeera America was hiring former NBC News anchor and correspondent John Seigenthaler took many in the business by surprise. Seigenthaler has been out of the public eye since leaving NBC in 2007, working as media consultant.

“I really didn’t have any intention of going back into journalism,” Seigenthaler tells TVNewser. “I was very happy with the consulting business that I had worked out with my family members.

Al Jazeera came to me and explained to me what they were doing, explained to me they were starting this new national news channel in the United States, and that they were opening 12 bureaus in the U.S., and they told me about their 70 bureaus worldwide, and their commitment to unbiased, serious reporting of the news and that they weren’t interested in the ratings,” he added. “As a journalist for 27 years, that is a dream come true.”

Jumping in he is. Later this month Seigenthaler will make his AJAM debut as the primetime news anchor, a big job for the nascent channel. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done. When asked what his news program will look like, Seigenthaler laughs.

“I have been here for four days,” he says. “You know better than anyone, over the last five or six years, what we have seen is cutbacks, news organizations have cut back reporters and producers and editors, we have also seen a turn toward tabloid journalism. I think that Al Jazeera will be something very different than what you see on your traditional cable news channels or the networks in this country.”

Seigenthaler joins a “who’s who” list of journalists at AJAM, including former CNNers Ali Velshi and Soledad O’Brien, as well as veterans Joie Chen and Sheila MacVicar.

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Al Jazeera America Taps Joie Chen As Anchor Of ‘America Tonight’

Al Jazeera America has named Joie Chen the anchor of its primetime newsmagazine, “America Tonight.” Chen is a CNN and CBS News veteran, and most recently worked as a media consultant in Washington DC. She left CBS News in 2008, as we reported at the time.

Before joining CBS Chen spent more than a decade at CNN and CNN International.

“I’m thrilled to create world-class journalism with some of the best in the business,” said Chen in a statement. “America Tonight will bring together the powerful and diverse voices of Al Jazeera America and stand out from other networks with its fearless, unbiased reporting,” she added.

Among the contributors to “America Tonight” will be Soledad O’Brien, as well as a number of correspondents AJAM recently added. It will air every weeknight at 9 PM, making it one of AJAM’s signature shows.

More below.
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David Shuster To Join Al Jazeera America

Former MSNBC anchor David Shuster will be joining Al Jazeera as an anchor, a network source confirms to TVNewser. Shuster will likely anchor in the evenings, although a timeslot has not been confirmed. Shuster’s hire was first noted by Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post.

Shuster has been a regular on radio in Washington DC, and appeared frequently on Current TV after leaving MSNBC in 2010. MSNBC suspended Shuster in April of 2010 when it learned that he taped a pilot for CNN. The pilot never went anywhere, but MSNBC still felt compelled to lock him out until his contract with the network was completed.

At AJAM, Shuster is joining a bevy of TV news veterans, including former CNN anchors Ali Velshi and Soledad O’Brien and former HLN anchor Richelle Carey.

AJAM still does not have a chief executive or a head of programming, two roles that it should probably fill before it launches in a month’s time.

Richelle Carey Joining Al Jazeera America

TVNewser hears that former HLN anchor Richelle Carey is joining Al Jazeera America as an anchor, based in AJAM’s New York City headquarters. It isn’t entirely clear what program Carey will be anchoring for AJAM.

Carey left HLN in June after seven years with the cable channel. Before HLN she was an anchor at KMOV St Louis.

Carey will join a number of former colleagues from CNN and HLN at the channel, which launches next month, including Ali Velshi, Soledad O’Brien and Kim Bondy.

Al Jazeera America may be launching next month, but it is still waiting to announce who its chief executive will be. Whoever it is will have a programming slate more or less filled out already.

Soledad O’Brien: No Jodi Arias-Style Stories For Al Jazeera America

Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien talks to The Wrap about her new deal with Al Jazeera America, as well as her production deals with HBO and CNN. As she was in our interview last month, O’Brien seems giddy about being her own boss, but she also sees the partnership with AJAM as a chance to cover stories that her CNN and HBO deals may not work for:

I covered Katrina, I’ve covered the tsunamis, all of them, the Haiti earthquake … you get to a certain point in your career where you say I want to now cover what I want to cover. So for one of our first Al Jazeera pieces for “America Tonight,” we’ll go back to Haiti – I go back there every year – and we’ll take a look at what’s working and where the money’s gone?

There’s a lot to do there, so I’ll go in and do a couple pieces on, for all the Americans who gave a lot of money, what’s happening in Haiti? And then we’re going to do a great piece on the variation of the quality of public education across America. That’s an amazing story.

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