Al Jazeera’s (Global) Mission involves a new English-language channel, Al Jazeera International:
But Al Jazeera International (AJI) has grander ambitions than to be simply the enfant terrible of the Middle East. For starters, it will broadcast in English, giving it a much broader reach; its staffers are imports from upmarket operations such as the BBC, CNN, and Associated Press Television News (APTN); and it professes a rigorous code of ethics and the loftiest news-gathering goals. “The mission of Al Jazeera International is to provide accurate and impartial news with a global, international perspective,” says Will Stebbins, formerly an APTN regional editor and now AJI’s Washington bureau chief. “News in the U.S. clearly comes from a very culturally specific viewpoint that eclipses many important stories and issues. We want to provide different points of view from around the world.”
The format for the channel, which is currently scheduled to launch in late spring, is itself innovative. Instead of being run out of a central command post, AJI’s news day — and news management — will follow the sun: Programming will begin in Doha, Qatar, which will likely host a 12-hour chunk of the day, then shift to London for a four-hour segment, then to Washington, DC, for a 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (local-time) slot, and finally to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The top of each hour will be hard news; the back half, analysis, chat shows, and documentaries, some of it generated by viewers. There will be only one feed, so viewers worldwide will all see the same broadcast at the same time.
More intriguing, each news desk will be run independently, with the mandate to report international news through its own lens. Imagine, says Stebbins, by way of illustration, the follow-up to Bush’s recent State of the Union speech: In Doha, broadcasters might have lined up reaction to the president’s warning to Hamas to disarm; in Kuala Lumpur, analysis might have dialed in on Bush’s comments on protectionism; and in London, on his admonishment of Iran. And in the States, Stebbins says, instead of the usual pundits, he might have rung up Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s fiery president, or polled Mexicans on Bush’s remarks on immigration enforcement.