Cash starved newsrooms of the world are taking note of Al Jazeera America, a new, deep-pocketed competitor with an image problem. With a staff of 900, the Qatar-based network represents "one of the most significant investments in television journalism in modern times," writes TV critic Brian Seltzer.
By purchasing Current TV for $500 million, Al Jazeera automatically gains access to 48 million homes, or nearly half of those wired for cable television, Seltzer reports. But that doesn't change a fundamental problem: that since the days following 9/11, the network's Arabic language flagship channel has developed a reputation as a global mouthpiece for Al Qaeda terrorists.
Still, the network has managed to attract a number of award-winning American journalists with assurances of a commitment to hard news with editorial independence (Al Jazeera is funded by a charitable foundation established by the royal family of Qatar).
When a media wag asked newly hired Al Jazeera correspondent Paul Beban if the network had asked him to wear a burqua, he simply paused and replied, "You know what? They were out of 42 long." Courtesy The Denver Post.