AJAM Closure a Loss for Would-Be Journalists

Al Jazeera America news online

After two-and-a half years Al-Jazeera America shut down it’s station in mid-April this year. The loss is incalculable insofar as bold watchdog journalism goes at a time when our country is at a critical crossroad with regard to elections, climate change and peak oil, and economic sustainability—and especially with regard to balanced mass media broadcasting.

The official reason why Al-Jazeera America (affectionately known as AJAM) closed its doors is because its parent company, based in Qatar, is suffering from low oil prices, and is unable to keep up with the cost of operations. At least 700 jobs will be shed, including those for veteran journalists, television anchors, producers, researchers, writers, editors, camera persons, digital communications workers, and so on.

Viewers are continuing to submit comments to the announcement which, while dated January 13, 2016, caught many off guard because the announcement was kept under close wraps.  A full description of the TV station including outstanding programs and awards is described at Wikipedia.

Here are some of the many comments posted by viewers:

Comment by Jamie Morris:

AJAM is by far the only news channel I came to love for its true journalism.
I knew more about what was going on in America by watching AJAM news channel than any of our local new channels. You will truly be missed. I hope to find you online. Maybe one day you’ll be back.

Comment by Klaus Etying:

Literally the only good news network in America.  I can’t believe we lost this one.  Now all we have is Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga reporting.  “Empty their minds and fill their bellies if you want to rule the people effectively”.  That’s from the Tao Te Ching.  I would gladly pay more for gasoline if it could bring back our real news network.

Comment by Anonymous:

I will very much miss AJAM. Your wide international coverage – not found anywhere else in U.S. news coverage – and the professionalism and delivery of all the team were appreciated. All the best to the team.

Al-Jazeera America was not without its controversies, whether stemming from mainstream competitors, politicians, news critics, or even careerists within the ranks. However AGN admires how the company united in support of journalists wrongly incarcerated. In 2014, the reporter covered journalists detained in Egypt. In September 2015, AJAM producer Baher Mohamed and bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy were finally freed by a pardon from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

As noted in an article prepared at APA for Progress in August 2014, AJAM also took the cake in offering journalists of color authentic opportunities:  http://bit.ly/1T9EdOE

For all of us who enjoyed investigative documentaries worth viewing twice, here’s the YouTube link to award-winning Fault Lines, as well as related AJAM channels for 101 East, Inside Story, and The Stream. The end may yet be a new beginning, if we keep commenting and keep Al Jazeera America bookmarked among our favorites.

Read this Goodnight, and Good Luck essay by Tony Karon with AJAM‘s trademark meme:

For Al Jazeera America online, no human tragedy could be reduced to a statistic or dismissed as the collateral damage of another’s self-defense or an inevitable consequence of geography, politics, class, race, sect or ethnicity. Poverty, violence and environmental degradation are not immutable forces of nature; they are the product of choices made by those in power. The media’s function in a democracy is to enable the public to make informed choices, which in turn requires laying bare the human consequences of policy decisions. That was a challenge we accepted with relish. Freed of commercial pressure to serve up clickbait, we could focus on stories that needed telling.

That’s the hallmark of true journalism, serving the People, not just those in Power.