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Al Jazeera America announces launch date

In statement, network announces appointment of senior editorial leadership ahead of planned launch on August 20.

Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 01:12
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Kate O'Brian, the president of Al Jazeera America, says the channel will fill 'a gap' in the US news media landscape

Al Jazeera has announced that it will be launching its new US channel, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), on August 20.

The network announced the appointment of it senior leadership team in a statement released on Monday, in preparation for the launch in less than a month.

The editorial team will be led by Kate O'Brian, a 30-year ABC News veteran who will take over as president of the network.

She will be joined by David Doss and Shannon High-Bassalik, who will join from CNN as senior vice-presidents, and Marcy McGinnis, a former journalism associate dean who worked at CBS News.

Ehab al-Shihabi will serve as interim chief executive officer of the network, according to an announcement made by Al Jazeera's acting director-general, Mostefa Souag.

Q&A

Five Questions with Kate O'Brian, Al Jazeera America's newly
appointed president:

Why Al Jazeera?
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to create a news product that I think is sorely missing in the American media landscape right now. There is a great history of quality journalism at Al Jazeera, and I am looking forward to bringing all that to Al Jazeera America.

Read more.

O'Brian, a former senior vice-president at ABC News who began her career there as an intern, will be based at the network's headquarters in New York City, and "will have full responsibility for defining and implementing the editorial strategy and operations across the network, including news, documentary and all other programming", according to the statement.

In an interview, O'Brian told Al Jazeera English, AJAM's sister network, that there was "a gap" in the US news media landscape that her channel would be seeking to fill.

"Coming into the American news landscape, the opportunity to innovate is something Al Jazeera can bring into the equation. We can start from scratch, producing in-depth, quality content for the viewers who are looking for something different. It will be a new product, not incremental tweaks in existing news formats," she said.

Al-Shihabi said at the end of June that Al Jazeera had hired 650 employees and planned to air 8 minutes of commercials per hour, which is below the industry standard of about 15 minutes.

Al Jazeera America will launch on August 20, and will provide both domestic and international news aimed at US audiences. It will be headquartered in New York, with 12 bureaus in cities across the United States.

In January, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network acquired Current TV, a cable channel that will give the broadcaster the access to millions of US homes it has long sought.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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