TVNewser visited the channel’s midtown Manhattan studio last week for a wide ranging interview with network president Kate O’Brian who spoke about the preconceived notions of Al Jazeera, whether the ratings are a concern, and her own move from an entrenched broadcast network to a 24-hour news startup: “I’m riding the wild bronco, and enjoying every second of it.”
TVNewser: How are you trying to differentiate AJAM from other networks?
O’Brian: We’re not putting pundits on, we’re putting experts on when needed. And that’s a really important distinction because we don’t want to hear people just discussing at whatever decibel level their opinions on whatever is going on. We want to hear experts [when we have someone other than our reporter reporting a story] going deeply into the reasons something is the way it is.
TVNewser: What have been your major obstacles?
O’Brian: We’re a startup. Some things have been challenges but we are working through, like getting on Time Warner (Cable), getting more distribution. There’s no question that we have to get our brand out there, and we have to get people to tune in. What we’ve found is, when people tune in and look at us, their preconceived notions of what we are and what we do are just exploded.
TVNewser: What are your metrics to see if people are moving away from preconceived notions of Al Jazeera?