Tuesday, April 18, 2006

AL JAZEERA STILL HIRING

Well, lost in the shuffle with all the Katie Couric news is the fact that Al Jazeera International is still hiring. Yes, those guys can't get TV distribution in the USA, they are generally hated by everyone on this side of the world, but they are still pressing ahead hiring people.

I think their pitch to people is that they'll do a better job covering international news than these other places, and they may have a point. Frankly, nobody else is doing ANY job covering international news, so the road is free and clear for a new competitor with resources to come in and start up. The problem for Al Jazeera, though, stems from all the baggage associated with this network because of the awful al-Qaida videos they've run. No wonder they can't get distribution in the USA, they have a terrible reputation with Americans.

But not with reporters, apparently, who keep on flocking to join the network. Today I found out that Kimberly Halkett has joined the Washington D.C. bureau of Al Jazeera as an anchor. Kimberly Halkett, formerly of Global TV. CANADA. Now at Al Jazeera.

What surprises me is that Halkett still has a work visa to work down there in the States! Personally I'd be scared to even schedule a meeting with Al Jazeera, let alone work there, because of all the stories I hear about how much the US government hates this network. I heard all the stories about how the US wanted to bomb this station during the war! Al Jazeera's name is mud in the United States and it's going to take a lot for this operation to convince people that they aren't part of the Axis of Evil.

I also read that Rob Reynolds of CNBC is joining Al Jazeera, too, so that is a sure indication right there that life sucks at CNBC for people there. If you're bolting CNBC for Al Jazeera of all places, man, that really looks bad in my estimation.

All in all, it seems like a lot of credible people are signing on to Al Jazeera, people like David Frost, Dave Marash, Riz Khan and so on. People who used to work at CNN and the BBC are going there. So maybe it's not going to be so bad after all. Then again, maybe CNN and the BBC aren't so good. Who knows.

One thing is true. There are very few places out there for people to go to in TV if they are interested in covering international news. If you got into TV journalism to see the world you're really out of luck these days. Look at Fox News or MSNBC or these places, all they seem to cover are domestic stories like the Natalee Holloway case and the recent arrest there, or the local hurricanes and tornadoes. These networks have all cut back, and international reporting has been reduced to backpack-journalism for most people. The only real option people have to cover international news is to join some foreign startup like Al Jazeera, who's hiring people like mad, and then cross your fingers that they will establish some semblance of credibility with the US public in the future.

That's the reason why they're hiring so many people. There's nowhere else for these international newsies to go-- which in a way is too bad.

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