Al-Jazeera America, a new, U.S.-based extension of the media organization funded by the Qatar government, announced today that its existing Chicago bureau will expand significantly with several new hires, including on-air talent.
"It is important for Al-Jazeera America to report on the news from where it's happening," said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al-Jazeera and the senior executive in charge of developing the new channel. "Chicago is a critically important city from a financial, political and social perspective. We could not create a channel that fully covers U.S. news and events without having a significant bureau in the Windy City."
Al-Jazeera America expects to hire 800 U.S. journalists and launch the 24-hour news channel by July or August of this year.
According to a press release, Al-Jazeera America "will provide both domestic and international news for American audiences." It will be headquartered in New York City, with multiple bureaus in key locations across the United States.
During an interview, Mr. Al Shihabi repeatedly cited shortcomings by other news organizations and said that despite grants from the Qatar government, the new Al-Jazeera America would offer "unbiased" reporting, Crain's Chicago Business reports.
"Not everybody is happy with the landscape" of the American media business, and it's created a "smart investment," the executive said. "A lot of consumers are demanding in-depth journalism, and this is why we are here."
According to the release, Al-Jazeera America also announced that it will offer internships at its New York City headquarters for Chicago-area journalism students.
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