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Al Jazeera

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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Mediabistro Event

TVNewser Show Coming to NYC on April 29!

TVNewser ShowThe TVNewser Show Seminar & Media Job Fair will explore the way TV business and technologies are changing through informative panels and discussions with industry experts. Attendees will also have the opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals at the event's exclusive media job fair. Register before midnight on April 28 to save on on-site pricing!

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.

Al Jazeera Journalists Mark 100 Days in Jail

detained al jazeera journalistsAs Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed mark 100 days in jail in Egypt, Al Jazeera is renewing calls for the immediate release of the journalists.

Calling the charges “false and baseless,” Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said there is “no justification whatsoever in the detention of innocent journalists for such an outrageous amount of time.” He also called for the release of Abdullah Al Shamy, an Al Jazeera Arabic journalist who has been held for 236 days and has been a hunger strike since January 23.

“We are very grateful for the immense support of our staff, from right around the world. The response to their detention has been outstanding,” Anstey said in a statement. “The campaign is focused on the release of our four staff, but is fundamentally a stand in the defence of journalism itself, and a call for people everywhere to have a right to be heard and the right to know what is really going on in their world.”

In London, a crowd gathered outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House in support of the detained journalists.  Read more

Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalists Ask Judge for Release

al jazeera jailed journalistsThe three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt since the end of last year directly asked the judge to release them today, the Associated Press reports.

The journalists, Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy, and Baher Mohammed, strongly denied any ties to terrorism during a plea to the judge.

“The idea that I could have an association with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous,” Greste told the judge, Mohammed Nagi Shehata. He added that he was an award-winning journalist with years of experience.

“I ask for acquittal,” demanded Fahmy, denying accusations that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He told the judge he was an alcohol-drinking liberal who lived abroad for a long time, and added: “Have you ever heard of a (Muslim) terrorist that drinks alcohol?”

The judge did not accept their plea, adjourning the case until April 10.

CNN Correspondent Reports For Al Jazeera, Because AJ Reporters Aren’t Allowed To

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You don’t see this very often. A CNN correspondent reported for Al Jazeera in Cairo earlier this week, because Al Jazeera reporters can’t. Ian Lee, who was in Kiev earlier this month for CNN (above, right), is in Cairo this week (above, left) covering the trial of Peter Greste, who, along with other Al Jazeera journalists, is accused of endangering national security and aiding a terrorist organization.

“Let’s go to Ian Lee outside the courthouse in Cairo. He’s a correspondent with CNN and reporting on our behalf because Al Jazeera journalists are banned from reporting from Egypt,” said the Al Jazeera anchor.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to report as the trial was postponed. Greste along with Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, who have been held in a Cairo for 88 days, will be back in court Monday.

New Al Jazeera Video Imagines a World Where Journalists ‘Are Not Free to Report the Facts’

An international group of television anchors, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, are lending their voices to the #FreeAJStaff campaign advocating for the release of Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt. A new Al Jazeera video imagines a world where “journalists are not free to report the facts.” Watch:

Interim Egyptian President Says He Will Expedite Al Jazeera Trial

peter gresteIn a letter to the parents of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour pledged to “spare no effort to work towards the speedy resolution of the case,” the Associated Press reports:

Peter Greste, detained with three other Al-Jazeera English journalists, stands accused of endangering national security and aiding a terrorist organization for his work with the Qatar-based broadcaster.

“I would like to assure you . . . that I will spare no effort to work toward the speedy resolution of the case, in a fashion consistent with the law and that guarantees the reunion of the family in the near future,” Adly Mansour said in the letter, which was seen by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Greste’s trial is set to resume next week. Al Jazeera says the letter “recognises what we’ve been saying all along – that our journalists were doing their job and have no case to answer.”

Zurawik: Al Jazeera America Doc Shows Channel’s Value

al-jazeera-america-carousel-largeIn his Baltimore Sun column this week, David Zurawik reviews Al Jazeera America’s upcoming documentary, “On the Frontlines With the Taliban.” Zurawik writes the documentary shows the value of the channel by “serving democracy in the best tradition of journalism,” noting that there’s more to say about Al Jazeera America than just its low ratings:

As opposed to much American network and cable reporting on the fighting in Afghanistan, which is told from within a compound or fort looking out, this film is told from within the ranks of the insurgents. It opens with the camera among a ragged group of Taliban soldiers as they attack an Afghanistan army post. The sound of drones and NATO warplanes is overhead.

The documentary defines reporting from the ground-up, versus top-down. Instead of talking to PR-prepped generals and government officials back in their safe offices, this film gets down in the dust of the battlefield and captures the foot soldiers in all their fervor, bluster, frustration, finger-pointing, hope and fear as they launch an attack and then see it go mostly wrong. Read more

Al Jazeera America Releases New Mobile App

AJAM_Mobile_Screenshot_5Al Jazeera America released its new iPhone and Android app yesterday, billing it as a second screen device that will complement its online presence just as much as its TV programming.

”By no means a traditional second screen app, the app also includes Al Jazeera America’s broadcast schedule, a local channel finder, and each article can easily be shared via Twitter and Facebook,” said EVP for Product and Innovation Angela Morgenstern.

Our sister-site Lost Remote has all the details, including how AJAM is using a “Behind the Story” feature to help its readers understand the context and importance of various stories

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