Al Jazeera may be off the air in Iraq, but it’s on the move in the U.S.
This week alone, Al Jazeera America announced that it will be opening bureaus in Chicago and Detroit, just two out of 12 offices for the upcoming cable channel. New York, Washington, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have been selected as sites for the other bureaus, according to Politico.
Al Jazeera has said it received about 18,000 job applications for the 170 openings it posted late last year. But so far, Ali Velshi, who was a business correspondent and sometime anchor at CNN, is the only recognizable TV personality that Al Jazeera America has hired.
It was the venerable David Frost, the British interviewer, who lent Al Jazeera some credence when its English-language channel started in 2006. Nonetheless, the channel proved to be a tough sell in the United States and had difficulty getting on cable lineups. To remedy that problem, Al Jazeera bought Al Gore’s Current TV in January. As soon as the deal was signed, however, Time Warner, dropped low-rated Current and the cable giant has not indicated whether it will carry Al Jazeera America.
Despite its negative perception in large swaths of the American media market, Al Jazeera is funded by a U.S. ally. Qatar, whose emir runs the show in the oil-rich nation, maintains such strong diplomatic and security relations with the United States that CENTCOM has a forward headquarters in the capital of Doha, where Al Jazeera is based.
The Arabic channel has encouraged the Arab Spring in places such as Libya, but avoids ruffling feathers in Qatar and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its neighbor, according to the BBC.
So far no word on when Al Jazeera America will debut, but it’s sure to ruffle some feathers, don’t you think?