I may be in the minority, but I am interested to see what Al Jazeera America looks like when it airs on your local cable system on August 20.
I am interested because it has two brand hurdles it has to overcome to be successful in the cable news market. The first one is obvious. Most of us here associate Al Jazeera has being a mouthpiece for terrorists. That will remain a problem even though Al Jazeera America is headed by a former ABC News executive and populated by several seasoned US reporters and producers. (Including some you may know, such as Soledad O’Brien, formerly of NBC and CNN.)
That’s a significant problem. But it’s not the only one. The cable news market is a crowded one and, frankly, oversaturated. FOX News, CNN and MSNBC have dominated and, in the case of CNN, struggling to find new viewers.
The simple answer is that it must be different, but what does that difference look like? I don’t expect to see news slanted to the side of terrorists or serving as a mouthpiece for them. The fear I have is that Al Jazeera America will look and feel just like everyone else.
That means discussion shows with trumped-up arguments in which both sides are hollering at each other, then start rolling out the quips, then cutting to a car chase on Highway 1 in California.
I don’t have the answer for Al Jazeera America, but I’ll be interested to see if it does. I just hope it’s not more of the same.