Mr. Marash quit less than two years later over Doha’s story selections. He had been removed as anchor and made a senior correspondent — a role that left him unable to edit what he considered bad reporting.
Asked by the Columbia Journalism Review to provide examples of lousy stories, Mr. Marash said:
“There was a series entitled ‘Poverty in America,’ which, in the first place, was done in a way that illustrates some of the infrastructural problems that disturbed me greatly. The idea of a series about poverty in America was broached by the planning desk in Doha. The specifics of the plan were so stereotypical and shallow that the planning desk in Washington said that we think this is a very bad idea and recommend against it and won’t do it. And so the planning desk in Doha literally sneaked a production team into the United States without letting anyone in the American news desk know, and they went off and shot a four-part series that was execrable. That was essentially, if I may say so, here a poor, there a poor, everywhere a poor.”
He added: “Now, there is poverty in America, and there is a very wide gulf between rich and poor in America, and that is a trend for which there are stories to be reported. But this series reported nothing beyond the stereotype and the mere fact that there were homeless people living on the street in Baltimore, for example. Well, were they there as a consequence of mental illness that was not properly cared for because of a generation of a policy of deinstitutionalization? Al Jazeera didn’t know because they didn’t ask.”
Independent or state-run?
Obama Saeed, Al Jazeera’s corporate spokesman, said the company does not release its budget or its source of funding.
“The network receives funding from numerous sources, including a grant from the state of Qatar, advertising and subscriptions,” Mr. Saeed said.
The Al Thani family is firmly in control.
Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, the former emir’s billionaire cousin, is chairman of the board of Al Jazeera Media Network. Before starting Al Jazeera, he was the country’s propagandist as minister of information.
Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, a royal family member, was the network’s director general until he resigned in June to become Qatar’s minister of economy.
“I have some misgivings about that,” Mr. Janensch, the Quinnipiac journalism professor, said about Qatar’s ownership. “On the other hand, the BBC is ultimately owned by the British government, and so this is a long-standing mode of operation. I think the BBC has proven its independence.