Al Jazeera English to Downsize D.C. Operation

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We didn't get this through Wikileaks, but we just acquired an internal Al Jazeera memo to staff indicating a serious downsizing of the DC-based news operations of Al Jazeera English.

Dear All,
 
Today in our Washington DC office we are completing the "next frontier" project to restructure our broadcast model for News contribution from America.

From April 15th, we will no longer be opting-in with presentation from the DC Centre into news bulletins.  Instead we will be taking more live contribution from the field from stories we are covering across the USA.  We will continue to produce Inside Story from DC five days a week.

In addition to the changes in News output, in Programmes we are also moving Empire to New York later this year.  Though Empire does broadcast from locations which are specific to the subject of the show, New York is a natural base given its global make up and its global influence.

This change is part of the wider restructure which began over two years ago in order to enhance one of our core strengths of news gathering and reporting from the field.   We recently started up our bureau in Chicago.  We are soon to formally open our office in Los Angeles.  And we are now fully operational from Miami.  These bureaux add to our existing presence and strength in Washington DC, and New York, and our bureaux across Latin America.   Our commitment to coverage of the Americas remains as strong as ever.  With the US and Mexican elections this year, and with all the other stories from the United States and global stories which relate to the USA it is very important we continue to improve and enhance our coverage from the region.

Very best,

Al

AL ANSTEY |  MANAGING DIRECTOR
AL JAZEERA ENGLISH
www.aljazeera.net/english

We'll have to see what happens -- but this sounds like a pretty big disruption of Al Jazeera's high quality coverage of the American based political scene.  That said, the Al Jazeera English bureaus opening in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles are reversals of the trend in many major global news operations that are shutting down overseas bureaus.

It's been interesting to watch Al Jazeera gain prominence in Washington over recent years -- with the likes of Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Leon Panetta, Susan Rice and others appearing on Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English.  President Obama still seems to be maintaining an informal, perhaps unintentional, boycott of the news channel, which still smarts a bit from Obama's decision to grant an exclusive interview to the smaller Al Arabiya during his first year in office.

Many of these high level political interviews might not have been secured if Al Jazeera had not had the robust array of DC-based news products in house at the time.

Many employees of AJ English now fear layoffs will decimate their operation. 

And all this after Al Jazeera just did a deal to move their highly cramped operations to a new building in DC. 

Guess they won't need all that space after all?

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Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs. More

Clemons is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the D.C. political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic-policy challenges.

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