AirTalk for August 19, 2013

Cable news newcomer Al Jazeera America debuts tomorrow

US-MEDIA-DC-AL JAZEERA

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A news photographer films the logo of the new Al Jazeera America nightly news program America Tonight in the network's studio space in Washington, DC. Al Jazeera America, a cable news network set to launch on August 20, will have 12 bureaus in major cities in the US, three broadcast centers, a headquarters in New York City, and around 900 journalists and staff.

The first new news network to hit US airwaves in decades is making its debut on Tuesday. Al Jazeera America will have its first chance to rival CNN, MSNBC and Fox News on its own turf. The network has opened 12 bureaus around the country and is hiring more than 1,000 journalists. Its plan is to cover serious national news while also bringing an international perspective.

Opinions seem to be divided over the news agency's parent company Al Jazeera. There is still bitterness toward Al Jazeera for providing an outlet for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 4attacks, a move which led some to derisively label the network "Jihad TV."  Last month, 22 crew members of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr in Egypt resigned over what they said was biased coverage.

But as many Americans grow frustrated with the current network news options, is now the time for a newcomer? Does the US news media need a fresh voice like this to shake things up? Will you be watching Al Jazeera America? Do the controversies bother you?

Guest:

Philip Seib, Director of USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy and author of the book “The Al Jazeera Effect” (2008)


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