The new cable news channel Al Jazeera America is drawing a lot of major media attention.
USA Today asks in a relatively meaty story:
Al Jazeera America: Will U.S. viewers buy it?
A chunk of that report:
While journalists may be eager to join a news outlet that promises to air in-depth coverage, media analysts wonder how excited American viewers will be about a Middle Eastern-owned news operation with a controversial past and a programming approach that avoids shrill partisan voices. The fact that it’s backed by owners who seem to have put profit on the back-burner gives the network’s experiment a better shot, company watchers say.
“Al Jazeera enjoys the best economic model you can possibly have,” says Philip Seib, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California, who has written books on Al Jazeera. “They have a lot of money. They want to be a global player. They want Qatar to be a global player. And to be a true global journalistic force, you have to reach the U.S.”
Al Jazeera’s executives aren’t running from “the perception issue” or the fact that its unflinching airing of Osama bin Laden’s tapes is just a few clicks away on YouTube.
Al Shihabi says lingering audience hostility toward the channel will fade as viewers become familiar with its format and focus. “Do we have competitors or those who want to attack us from different angles? Of course,” he says. But, he adds, pointing to its American management and staff, “It is an American channel for the American audience.”
The headline at the New York Times:
Al Jazeera America Promises a More Sober Look at the News
From that story:
The Al Jazeera name still arouses deep suspicion in some Americans, mostly because of the period immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Al Jazeera broadcast messages from Osama bin Laden and was demonized by Bush administration officials as anti-American.
Al Jazeera America officials rebut questions about whether its brand name will hurt its chances on cable by invoking other foreign brands, like Honda, that are now viewed favorably in the United States.
For now, some big sponsors appear to be skittish; Al Jazeera declined to name any major advertisers.
To read both those reports, you get the idea that perhaps there’s a reason why Americans would be suspicious — at least initially — about that network.
But over at Religion News Service, in a story that reads more like an editorial, the reason for the steep climb faced in the U.S. market is clear: “deep-seated prejudices.”
The top of the RNS report: