Falling prey to the digital appetites of today’s viewers, cable news network Al Jazeera America is shutting its doors.
The broadcast network will cease TV and digital operations by April 30. In conjunction with that move, its parent network will expand its worldwide digital
arm into the United States.
In a statement, Al Jazeera said the move would serve “today’s 24-hour digitally focused audience”:
As audiences increasingly turn to multiple platforms, including mobile devices, for news and information, this expansion will allow U.S. and non-U.S.
consumers alike to access the network’s journalism and content wherever and whenever they want. By expanding its digital content and distribution services
to now include the U.S., the network will be better positioned to innovate and compete in an overwhelmingly digital world to serve today’s 24-hour
digitally focused audience.
on Al Jazeera’s website read, “… The economic landscape of the media environment has driven its strategic decision to wind down its operations [in the
United States] and conclude its service.”
Al Jazeera America’s chief exec, Al Anstey, wrote in a memo to his staff: “Our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges
in the U.S. media marketplace.”
The network struggled for viewers since its debut in 2013. Nielsen reported that Al Jazeera America garnered roughly 34,000 nightly viewers last year and
about 24,000 during the day.
“Sometimes its audience was so small that Nielsen couldn’t offer an estimate. Advertisers ignored it,”
The Washington Post reported.
Communications professionals have felt the pressure—whether in reporting the news, creating content marketing or working in media relations—that comes from
audiences' turning to social media platforms and other online sources to get news and information. That pressure will continue to increase, The New York Times reported:
The closure, which will cost hundreds of employees their jobs, highlights the difficulties of establishing a robust cable news presence in an increasingly
crowded media marketplace, and one that faces ever more competition from the web—the ultimate 24-hour news medium.
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Anstey said he respected the commitment and work from employees, whose work has been recognized with honors including the Peabody, Gracie, Alfred I.
DuPont-Columbia University, Emmy and Gracie awards:
I have witnessed and worked alongside some of the most talented people any organisation could wish for. Since its launch in 2013, the work done by the team
at Al Jazeera America has been recognised with nearly every major
award an American news organisation can receive. I greatly respect the unrivalled commitment and excellent work of our team, which has created great
journalism. We have increasingly set ourselves apart from all the rest, and the achievements of the past two-and-a-half years should be a source of immense
pride for everyone.
Anstey also wrote in his staff memo that the decision to close operations was not a reflection of employees’ work:
I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. … Our commitment to great
journalism is unrivaled. We have increasingly set ourselves apart from all the rest. And you are the most talented team any organization could wish for.
Though no specific details were given, Anstey told employees that the network would help them as much as it could.
“In the months to come, we will do everything that we can to support you, to work with you and to ensure you are shown the respect you deserve,” Anstey