Al Jazeera America, the stateside branch of the famed Qatari news network, has announced its shutdown come April 2016. The network has long been mired in financial issues, barely able to break 30,000 viewers a week following their buyout of Current TV. Funding has been rumored to be the primary issue, with the fall in oil prices accused of being the main cause of the network’s loss in funds. Lack of advertising, likely due to a reluctance to promote a non-sensationalist news outlet, has also been cited as a cause for the much-acclaimed network. There have also been accusations of internal issues facing the Al Jazeera America team,
Former network executive Ehab Al Shihabi, who has been cited as describing rating and profit margin to be a vital goal for the news network’s fledgeling American branch, had long been accused of inspiring a toxic workplace environment and inspiring fear among employees who worked in the network. Al Shihabi frequently placed faith in the network, comparing their introduction as a potential competitor to the rise of MSNBC and Fox News (NASDAQ:FOX), but had, according to former Al Jazeera employees, worked had to ruin those who had crossed him within the workplace. Employees frequently stopped showing up with no apparent reasoning. This, along with the network’s slow demise, had led to a stress-constant environment.
Al Jazeera’s arrival to America had been an excitable affair, with promises to provide unbiased news to the American public. The network’s sister channel Al Jazeera English had long been accused, however, of an anti-American bias by conservative media outlets in the United States, despite Al Jazeera America being a frequent award winner for exemplary journalism. Al Jazeera’s stance on news being an unbiased, serious and sober affair appeared to have drawn suspicion, especially drawing claims that the network was merely a propaganda machine for the questionable Qatari government. Despite this, however, Al Jazeera continues to claim editorial freedom in the face of attempted government censorship. For now, however, hopes for a more serious, unbiased news networks seem to have been daunted.