Photo: AP Photo / Haraz N. Ghanbari
Al-Jazeera has advertised more than 100 job vacancies in New York and Washington, including a team of investigative journalists, in preparation for launching its US news channel.The hiring spree for the New York-based channel, likely to be called al-Jazeera America, follows the Middle Eastern broadcaster’s $500m (£300m) deal to buy Al Gore’s cable network Current TV earlier this month.
Al-Jazeera reportedly plans to double Current TV’s headcount to more than 300 for its new US channel. Al-Jazeera has already begun advertising 102 jobs in the US, with seven forming an investigative journalism unit to be based in Washington.
The number and scope of the vacancies gives an insight into the scale of al-Jazeera’s US plans. Among other jobs, the broadcaster is hiring 54 producers, 20 editors, and one New York-based presenter.
Jobs up for grabs include news, sport, economic, and science and technology correspondents, and various producer and executive producer roles for news, sport and business.
Al-Jazeera has remained coy about its plans for the venture, but reports suggest it plans to launch a distinctively US channel with 60% of the content produced in America and the remainder from its existing English-language offshoot, al-Jazeera English.
The launch of the channel represents al-Jazeera’s most significant attempt yet to crack America, the most lucrative and competitive media market in the world.
The broadcaster, which is owned by the emir of Qatar, has previously struggled to strike carriage deals with cable and satellite TV distributors due to latent suspicions about its ownership and politics.
Al-Jazeera said earlier this month that its US launch would allow it to reach the homes of 60 million Americans – the distribution enjoyed by Current TV before the takeover – and would “make a positive contribution to the news and information available in and about the United States”.
However, US cable giant Time Warner threatened to thrown a spanner in the works when it announced, immediately following news of the takeover, that it would drop Current TV from its channel lineup. It is unclear if this means it will not carry al-Jazeera America, which will take over Current TV’s channel slot.
On Wednesday, al-Jazeera’s website published an opinion piece by the journalist Danny Schechter which asserted that the broadcaster’s critics are “driven by political beliefs, not media values”.
Schechter added: “It’s not clear if all the negativity towards the channel is driven by fear that it might succeed or just plain American arrogance fed by a cocky sense of superiority towards foreigners, even as many domestic TV news channels now report serious ratings slides.
“The volume of derision has not diminished even if the assertion that al-Jazeera is pro-terrorist because it has covered terrorists goes unchallenged, and even as cable system operator Time Warner’s decision not to offer the new channel – even before it sees what it is – has not been contested by regulators, or even, to my knowledge, human rights and freedom of expression groups.”
A footnote to the piece clarified that Schechter’s opinions do not necessarily reflect al-Jazeera’s editorial policy.
Al-Jazeera had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
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This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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