by Cynthia Littleton, Managing Editor: Television,
On the heels of an explosive wrongful termination lawsuit, sources report that a major shakeup of operations and programming has been in the works for months at the Al Jazeera America cable news channel.
Sources familiar with the situation paint a picture of desperation inside the channel’s New York headquarters and pressure coming from the parent company in Doha, Qatar to improve the channel’s fortunes. Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi has been spending more time at AJA’s central newsroom offices near Madison Square Garden than in the business office in Lower Manhattan.
Sources say Al Jazeera America has quietly been replacing some of its programs and newscast blocks with the feed from Al Jazeera English, the English-language service run by the parent company that predated the launch of AJA. At the time AJA bowed in 2013, Al Jazeera executives insisted that the cabler would be distinct from the pre-existing Al Jazeera English service. Al Shihabi also repeatedly stated that AJA’s goal was not to generate profits but to build a credible newsgathering operation, focusing on hard news and substantive reporting.
Two senior executives — communications exec VP Dawn Bridges and human resources exec VP Diana Lee — resigned this week and are in the process of exiting the company, AJA confirmed. Sources also say Al Shihabi has instituted other changes that have had the effect of “marginalizing” AJA president Kate O’Brian, the ABC News vet who was recruited two years ago to launch AJA.
The roles of David Doss, senior VP of current affairs and an ABC News and CNN alum, and Marcy McGinnis, senior VP of outreach and a former CBS News exec, are said to have effectively been diminished in recent months. An AJA spokesman said Wednesday there has been “no change” in O’Brian’s role. McGinnis headed newsgathering for most of the her tenure at AJA but recently shifted to the ill-defined “outreach” post. Sources said more high-level execs are expected to follow Bridges and Lee out the door in the coming weeks.
FOR THE REST OF THE STORY AT THE WEBSITE, PLEASE CLICK HERE
Al Jazeera Accused of Anti-Semitism, Sexism in $15 Million Discrimination Lawsuit
A former employee also accuses the network of anti-American remarks and a hostile work environment
Flailing news network Al Jazeera America has been sued for $15 million by a former employee who claims discrimination by a manager.
Matthew Luke, who started when the network launched in 2013 as a media supervisor, filed a suit in New York State Supreme Court Tuesday saying his former manager Osman Mahmud, senior VP of broadcast operations, pulled female employees from projects, excluded them from emails and meetings and made anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks.
“Whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell,” the suit claims Mahmud said. Keys claims that soon after he brought the charges to human resources he was fired.
READ THE REST OF THE DISCRIMINATION SUIT STORY HERE