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In 2006, Al Jazeera launched Al Jazeera English, which now airs in 100 countries and is available in at least 130 million households. (That reach includes only a couple of U.S. cities.) The channel has been praised for its extensive international coverage and has become the dominant television news organization covering the developing world.
In light of its acclaimed reporting of the Middle Eastern and North African protests of early 2011, Al Jazeera English pushed for further U.S. distribution, starting a social media campaign and meeting with U.S. cable providers. In August 2011, it began broadcasting in the New York area through a deal with Time Warner Cable.
Al Jazeera bought the Al Gore-founded cable news channel Current TV in December 2012 with plans to turn it into a new channel (separate from Al Jazeera English) called Al Jazeera America. After its difficulty getting cable carriage for Al Jazeera English, the purchase of Current was widely seen as an effort to gain more distribution in American homes. Al Jazeera America planned to open 12 U.S. bureaus before its scheduled launch in late 2013.
After Al Jazeera had difficulty getting Al Jazeera English picked up by U.S. carriers, it created a branded YouTube channel to distribute its programming online to viewers. As of 2012, about 40 to 45 percent of its video-streaming traffic came from countries where its channel is banned or not carried, including the U.S. However, with the launch of Al Jazeera America, the network planned to cease live-streaming its programming as part of an effort to improve its value for cable carriers.
Though the channel was to be largely independent from its Arabic-language parent, staffers have repeatedly expressed concern that the Arabic operation is exercising significant editorial control. In 2012, Al Jazeera reportedly cut or relocated about 200 of Al Jazeera English’s staffers and centralized control in Qatar. At the same time, it began moving heavily into sports broadcasting, especially European soccer.
Al Jazeera has often been accused of having an anti-Israel or anti-U.S. bias, though it has also been praised for its distinct perspective. In 2011, however, its news director resigned after diplomatic cables revealed that he had modified Iraq war coverage in response to U.S. pressure, and in 2012, its news director re-edited a video package to focus on the Qatari emir, the channel’s owner.
The network has been active in publicly led journalism, using Ushahidi to crowdsource breaking news. It launched a citizen journalism platform, Sharek, in 2008, that had had 70,000 videos uploaded by 2012. It has also released significant amounts of news footage under a Creative Commons license, allowing anyone to use it with credit. It was an early partner of the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership, which became OpenNews, and has used open live-blogging platforms for several major news issues.
Al Jazeera was widely praised for its coverage of protests in the Middle East and North Africa in early 2011, particularly online, drawing attention for its use of streaming video, social media, and other online tools. The coverage propelled its online traffic and visibility to unprecedented levels.
In January 2011, Al Jazeera launched a system on its website for sharing leaks called the Transparency Unit modeled after WikiLeaks. The network published the first set of links later that month as the Palestine Papers.
In April 2011, Al Jazeera introduced The Stream, a television show and web community for younger news consumers.
Vox Media is an online media company that consists of the sports blog network SB Nation and the tech site The Verge. Vox Media was formally formed in 2011, but it began with the creation of SB Nation (short for SportsBlog Nation), a network of more than 300 fan-run sports blogs, many of them dedicated to a particular…