By Hanley, Delinda C.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , Vol. 29, No. 3
AL JAZEERA English staff members visited the 14th Street Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC on Jan. 21 to help their local audience get to know them. Before Busboys proprietor Anas "Andy" Shallal introduced Avi Lewis, co-host of Al Jazeera's popular "Fault Lines" program, to the capacity crowd he plugged his independent bookstore at the entrance of Busboys restaurant. "Independent bookstores are a dying breed," he said. "If you don't support it, it will close down," Shallal warned.
"We can always count on Al Jazeera English...What a difference real news makes," Shallal said. The audience watched a promotional video explaining what Al Jazeera English does and how it has covered the U.S. and the world during the first year of the Obama presidency. Launched in November 2006, Al Jazeera English now has 130 million viewers in 100 countries around the world. A staff of 1,000 comprising nearly 50 nationalities makes Al Jazeera English's newsroom one of the world's most diverse. The international network broadcasts news and current affairs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from four strategically located broadcast centers: Doha, Qatar; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; London, England; and Washington, DC.
When Lewis asked audience members if they watched the channel, nearly every hand shot up. "Let cable operators know that there is an appetite for Al Jazeera English," he urged. Lewis said he hopes audiences will insist that cable companies across North America make the channel available to their local subscribers.
Lewis then moderated a sometimes heated and always lively question-and-answer discussion with Al Jazeera English writer and producer Laila Al-Arian, producer Imad Musa and news editor Paul Werdel. Asked what the difference is between Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English, Lewis said he was proud of each. They work in two different markets, he explained, with two different editorial teams. …