Al Jazeera America is shutting down

Closing up shop in April.

In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”


That’s what happens when you tangle with Peyton Manning.

I’m pretty bummed. They were just as opinionated as the rest of the cable news channels, but it was nice to have another voice.

Disappointing. :(

Nearly every in-depth news reporting clips that John Oliver used on Last Week Tonight were either from AJAM or PBS Newshour or 60 Minutes. So I figured once AJAM was more widely available, it would be an excellent news channel. But sadly, I never got to see it.

Wikipedia says that Al Jazeera is planning on expanding its digital presence in the US. Sounds like they’re just a step ahead of the game of other news channels in realizing TV news is heading the way of the newspaper.

I’m curious about the people who have/will voice their disappointment in losing AJAM: did you ever actually tune in? And if so, how often?

That’s potentially good news, and I normally had them on daily. I’m a “background noise” tv watcher, with CNN on at most times and then I’d flip it to Al Jazeera when I got bored with it.

Oh that’s good, I primarily consume their news digitally anyway.

Digital is shutting down too.

Huh … that’s kind of weird. I wonder what kind of costs were associated with keeping the digital side open. Ah, well. My guess is that we’ll still see English-version stuff on the main site, but it will all be based over in Qatar.

edit - I know people were joking, but is it possible that the shuttering might have actually had something to do with pending litigation from a certain football player? Does closing down an LLC (if it is one) and then creating a different entity to pick up the slack suddenly created in a marketplace do anything to shield the parent company from losses in such a situation?

Well fuck.

This is half remembered, but Al Jazeera was (legally) a rebranding of Current TV. They were bound by many of the agreements that Current had signed.

That made things more difficult for them.

Part of me liked the occasionally good AJ article and it seemed like a counterbalancing force to the generally garbage mainstream US media, but a bigger part of me says “good riddance” to what was a Qatari mouthpiece and Wahhabist/Islamist propaganda outfit. Admittedly it didn’t act like that in the US, but it probably would’ve fulfilled that purpose eventually (or, alternatively, continued to be useless).

They were actually pretty decent unless it had something to do with Israel, at which point it went into Fox News vs. Obama territory.

Market forces at work. The U.S. market really didn’t have room for yet another 24 hour news station, even one that slanted towards an under-served audience. A 30k prime time viewership is…bad. By contrast, the worst rated U.S. 24-hour news channel is MSNBC, which typically runs at 350k - 400k in prime time.

In my opinion, the worst mistake they made was with the name. Al Jazeera was already frowned on in the U.S. for their perceived link as a terrorism propaganda machine. They buy Current TV, a station that already was struggling for viewers, and rename it to something that they knew was viewed negatively in the country they wanted to air in? What was their target audience?

People who didn’t reflexively associate Al Jazeera with Al Quaeda.

My father thought, literally, that AJ was part of Al Quaeda. He was completely aghast that we were allowing terrorists to have a news station in the US.

AJA was always a weird bubble of very insightful, very non-middle eastern, takes on US policy and society. The best analogy I can think of are a group Noam Chompsky like leftists. AJA wasn’t just left leaning for America but would have been considered radical for the ME in its social policy positions. It felt like they had some money and almost complete editorial authority, and unified by their disgust and US-Israeli policy.

Yeah, it’s all sad but true.

As an aside, I can’t count the times that I tried to explain that “Al” in Arabic just means “The.” When translated, most of the exotic sounding names in Arabic wind up being just as boring as American names. For instance, Sahara? It literally means “desert.” That’s it. (that’s also the case for many other languages - salsa just means “sauce,” after all).

That said, there is thus far at least one name that stands out: “Euphrates Volcano” is the name of a collective group of fighters in Syria (mostly the YPG and some of the FSA). I mean, that’s a cool name.

If you polled Trump and Cruz supporters I bet most of them would think Al Jeezera was a mouthpiece for some radical Islamic group. They should have just called it AJ’s News.

Laser. Rocket. Arm.