Al Jazeera America: ‘Like
something a journalism
professor would imagine’
The new logo for Al Jazeera America. Click image to enlarge.
THE LONG WAIT IS OVER.
The newest kid on the American media block, Al Jazeera America, began its domestic broadcasts at noon PDT on Tuesday.
The first show was a one-hour introduction to the new channel and its lineup. “Real news for real people” was the slogan that repeatedly flashed across the screen. Impressive!
Richelle Carey, right, and Antonio Mora host the first Aljazeera America show on Tuesday at 0800 GMT. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hosted by Antonio Mora and Richelle Carey, the production values were top drawer. The sets awesome. The accents – all American!
Even the name has changed, albeit subtly. It is now “Aljazeera” – the space has gone!
It is bound to give CNN – the channel most directly challenged – a run for its money. Of course, MSNBC and Fox News (anyone still watching that drivel needs a new brain) will also be competing for market share.
But, if Al Jazeera America keeps the promises it has made (to me and millions of others in emails and media announcements) it is going to be a breath of fresh air on the U.S. journalism landscape.
THOSE PROMISES WERE DETAILED in a press release on Aug. 14 from the company: Fact-Based, In-Depth News Fills Al Jazeera America’s Programming
“Al Jazeera America today announced a full schedule of live news and investigative, documentary and discussion programming that fulfills its promise to provide unbiased in-depth coverage of domestic and international news important to its American viewers,” the company said.
The press release of Aug. 14, in which Al Jazeera America made its many promises. If it keeps them, we will all be better off. Click image to enlarge.
If it keeps to its word, it will not only “fill” its programming, it will fill a void that has emerged in recent years in U.S. broadcast news.
As Brian Stelter reported in The New York Times on Monday, “It sounds like something a journalism professor would imagine.”
Was he thinking of me? As you know, I am a professor of journalism, and blogging is merely my avocation.
The headline to Stelter’s story reveals the new network’s strategy: Al Jazeera America Promises a More Sober Look at the News
“Fourteen hours of straight news every day. Hard-hitting documentaries. Correspondents in oft-overlooked corners of the country. And fewer commercials than any other news channel,” Stelter reports.
How different from the hours of blowhards fed up as a steady diet by the other so-called “news” networks.
In an email received on Aug. 15 titled Al Jazeera America Unveils Programming Schedule, the new channel’s prime-time line-up is detailed:
“Our extensive daily news coverage features unbiased in-depth reporting from the U.S. and around the world. … to whet your appetite, here are some highlights:
“Real Money with Ali Velshi (Weeknights 7 ET/4 PT) focuses on how financial news and the economy affect Americans.
“The Stream” (Weeknights 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT): Hosted by journalists Lisa Fletcher and Wajahat Ali, “The Stream” is uniquely formatted to enable viewers to interact with the hosts and guests during the program via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ Hangouts and Skype,” the email said.
The email received Aug. 19 announcing the start of broadcasts by Al Jazeera America.
Al Jazeera America’s daily news show will compete head-to-head with the others in the 8 p.m. timeslot (and repeat, updated we hope, at 11 pm.)
Here’s the promo for the show:
Nightly News: Hosted by veteran news anchor John Seigenthaler, this one-hour prime-time news program reports the day’s events and provides updates on ongoing stories.
THE NEW NETWORK’S FLAGSHIP show at 9 p.m. will feature a familiar face to many viewers; its host was formerly a correspondent for CBS News.
From the email: “America Tonight (Weeknights 9pm ET/6pm PT): Al Jazeera America’s flagship show “America Tonight” is an hour-long news and current affairs magazine hosted by Joie Chen.”
Interviewed by Stelter for his comprehensive look at the new channel and its lineup, Chen made a revealing comment.
This is how Stelter reported it.
“In interviews, the anchors made offhand remarks that it is hard to imagine counterparts at other networks making.
“For instance, Ms. Chen asked: “How big does our audience need to be? I don’t know. Nobody talks about that here. …
“That’s not even a pitch I would have made in my old newsroom,” she said, because of budget limitations. “Here, we never have any debate about resources,” she said. “It’s like this: ‘Is that a good story?’ ‘Yes, it’s a good story.’ ‘Then go tell it.’ ”
This is a journalism professor’s dream come true. Stay tuned to this channel for more on Al Jazeera and its new brand of broadcast journalism. And, watch out Wolf Blitzer!
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