After a little less than two years on air, Al Jazeera America will shut down its operations on April 30. The decision was announced at a company meeting on Wednesday.
In a staff memo, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, appeared to place sole blame on the business side of the company’s operation, as opposed to its content production:
[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.
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.”
AJAM's desperate attempt to appeal to American audiences backfired miserably.
Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, a Sunni Arab petro-dictatorship. Al Jazeera literally means “The Peninsula,” an apparent reference to the Arabian Peninsula. Although the company Doha-based Al Jazeera Media Network contends that its editorial department is independent of government influence, the broadcaster’s questionable reporting and structure tell a different story.
According to The New York Times, “the newsroom was hit with turmoil last year when staff members complained bitterly of a culture of fear. There was an exodus of top executives, along with a pair of lawsuits from former employees that included complaints about sexism and anti-Semitism at the news channel.”
This should be unsurprising given the fact that the company is partly funded by the Qatari royal family. The House of Thani’s biased influence over news coverage is highlighted by Al Jazeera’s notoriously anti-Shia reporting and its obsessive promotion of the Islamist terror group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Suffice to say, the network's reporting on the Jewish state of Israel was perhaps less than friendly.
Accordingly, the company deployed nearly every cliche in the book to peddle the illusion of “objectivity.” Apparently arrogant anchors with pretentious British accent were not enough.
"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."
Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey
The public saw through the sophistry and subterfuge of the Queen’s English and dealt a heavy blow to the company’s financial viability in the States.
“Al Jazeera America's ratings have been anemic since launch. 20,000-40,000 viewers in prime time. Simply not enough,” says CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter.
After shooting to global fame for airing Osama Bin Laden’s terror videos, Al Jazeera decided to dip its greasy, oil-drenched hands in the US media market, airing its first broadcast in August 2013. In a financially risky move, executives purchased Al Gore’s Current TV for $500 million, hoping that bold early investments would allow Al Jazeera America to gain an intractable foothold in the market. Clearly, that calculation was wrong.
Goodbye Al Jazeera! Say hello to Clock Boy for us back in Qatar.