Al Gore’s cable network, Current TV has a new owner: Al Jazeera, the network launched by the tiny state of Qatar and funded by its emir.
Al Jazeera wants to transform Current into a network called Al Jazeera America. But it’s off to a rocky start.
Prof. Mohammed el-Nawawy teaches communications at Queens University of Charlotte. He’s also the author of “Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network That is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism.”
el-Nawawy says Al Jazeera has made itself into a media empire, but in the United States, “Al-Jazeera has sort of been stigmatized since its affiliation with the bin Laden tapes in the aftermath of 9/11 and its negative coverage of the American war in Iraq.” Some cable channels in the U.S. have refused to carry Al Jazeera English in response.
Despite the perception of an anti-American bias, el-Nawawy says “they try to always go out of their way to present an American point of view, be it on the official level or a journalistic level.” He says Al-Jazeera will have to learn how to cover topics that an American audience finds interesting, like the U.S. economy. And he says they should try to hire familiar faces that are already trusted by American viewers.