Adieu, Al Jazeera America, and all the DNA it absorbed from Al Gore's once massively-hyped Current TV.
The network's closure is particularly sad news for all the great TV news journalists they recruited since Al Jazeera America debuted in 2013. Al Jazeera America will shut down by April 30, 2016, many media outlets report today. The New York Times reports that its imminent death was announced at a companywide meeting on Wednesday. The Times previously reported last year about network staff complaining 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."
In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America's chief executive, Al Anstey, said 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," he continued. "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 went on the air in August 2013 after it bought Al Gore's Current TV for $500 million. It promised to be thoughtful and smart, free of the shouting arguments that have defined cable news in the United States over the last decade. But meaningful viewership never came, with prime-time ratings sometimes struggling to exceed 30,000 viewers.
"Al Jazeera America to Shut Down by April" [John Koblin, NYT]