Al Jazeera America Launches -- Makes Few Waves
Critics generally agreed that Tuesday's launch of Al Jazeera America -- or AJAM, as it's being called -- went off smoothly, professionally, and non-controversially. Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times pointed out that much of the opening hour of the program was dedicated to discussions of how the news network, unlike its competitors, was going to offer solid reporting about matters that Americans care about, employing terms like core values, real people and your America. It's difficult not to wish they'd lay off the nationalist bunting, she remarked. She noted that while the network offered a refreshingly cogent explanation of the recent turmoil in Egypt, it was accompanied by comments from former CNN anchor Tony Harris that folks in his hometown of Baltimore sometimes wonder why they should care about The Middle East. But the Baltimore Sun's TV critic, David Zurawik, wrote, I learned more about the political upheaval in Egypt in one report on Al Jazeera America Tuesday than I have in the last two weeks of watching network news. I mean that. Controversial media critic Howard Kurtz on Fox News said he thought the report on Egypt was right down the middle so far as balance was concerned and that the channel's coverage was not much different, at least so far, than what you might see on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. The New York Times's Brian Stelter remarked that the channel seemed to deliver on what it promised -- serious, straightforward news. He noted, however, that most of the discussion about the channel on Tuesday centered on the fact that many people could not watch it. AT&T U-verse dropped it at the last minute, causing Al Jazeera lawyers to file a lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court. It couldn't be seen online either. The Qatar company not only didn't stream content from Al Jazeera America but yanked its Al Jazeera English channel from the Internet as well.