Al Jazeera America Is Shutting Down in April

The 'stunning and rapid collapse' of a 'towering failure'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2016 3:40 PM CST
The Al Jazeera America newsroom prepares for its first broadcast in 2013. Less than three years later, the station is calling it quits.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

(Newser) – When Al Jazeera America launched in 2013 it seemed perhaps overly optimistic that Americans would accept a news channel called Al Jazeera that—in the words of the New York Times—aimed to be "free of the shouting arguments that have defined cable news in the United States." It turns out, it was. On Wednesday, Al Jazeera America announced it will be closing up shop by the end of April, the Intercept reports. "Our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the US media marketplace,” the Times quotes a memo to staff. The Intercept calls it a "stunning and rapid collapse" to what can only be seen as a "towering failure." With the announcement Wednesday, hundreds of journalists and others will find themselves out of a job.

In its less than three years of existence, Al Jazeera won a number of awards for journalism, but that didn't translate to viewers, the Atlantic reports. According to the Intercept, the news station was averaging only 30,000 viewers in prime time. Put another way: "Ratings were so low as to be almost unquantifiable." Employees also complained of sexism and anti-Semitism, and the station's general counsel was suspended in November because "he did not appear to be licensed to practice law," the Times reports. It also didn't help that Al Jazeera America was funded by the Qatar government, which is currently struggling with low oil prices, according to the Intercept. While the online side of Al Jazeera America is also being shuttered, it appears Al Jazeera will be expanding its digital English content in some form in the future.

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