Face It Al Jazeera America, Viewers Are Staying Away in Droves
You mean Americans don’t want to watch terrorist news?
Check it out:
The network used its Qatari riches to stir great speculation about its plans, hiring over 850 staffers and opening bureaus in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. It is building up the kind of assets that the big-three broadcast networks used to enjoy, producing 14 hours of hard news everyday and a raft of lengthy, multi-part documentaries.
Its employees have not been shy about boasting of the channel’s financial assets. “I had a career at CBS News for 35 years, and we were shrinking our bureaus,” AJA’s senior vice president for news gathering, Marcy McGinnis, has said.
Much of that reporting presents to an American audience a rather bleak vision of their country — heroin in Vermont, domestic violence in South Carolina, subpar neonatal care in Ohio — that hasn’t been covered extensively by other networks, but probably for a reason: These things aren’t really that much of a problem. But AJA is determined to paint a dreary, depressing, and often pedantic view of the country in which we live. It’s easy to imagine why more viewers aren’t flocking to a channel offering little more than doom and gloom.
To gain access to American living rooms, Al Jazeera proper opened the checkbook after its original English-language channel proved a flop, failing to reach more than 5 million homes in the United States. In the years following the second Gulf War, American cable companies were wary of a channel whose parent network aired programming deeply hostile to Israel and whose reporters seemed disturbingly sympathetic to the anti-American passions of the Arab street.