In April of 2013, Qatar-based news agency Al Jazeera embarked on an ambitious project — to break into the U.S. news scene, a realm dominated by major players like CNN and Fox News.
Since then, Al Jazeera America has indeed made a name for itself, though it wasn't always in the most flattering light. So it was in January, after a tough string of controversies, that the announcement was made that the network would be shutting down.
On Tuesday at 9p.m. — almost 3 years to the day that it was founded — Al Jazeera America aired its final broadcast, closed its doors, and said goodbye:
Though the network came out to a strong start — earning a Peabody Award in April 2014 for its investigative report “Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera” — execs were soon hit with a $65 million lawsuit from former Vice President Al Gore, claiming breach of contract.
Gore had sold his Current TV channel to Al Jazeera in 2013, which was used to establish its American foothold.
It was just the start of the network's legal issues, as they were soon targeted by another lawsuit claiming sexism and anti-Semitism, to only — a year later — have it emerge that their general counsel did not have the proper license to practice law.
Then, only a month after publishing a potentially bombshell report that major athletes including NFL quarterback Peyton Manning had been using illegal growth hormones — which Manning and others fiercely denied — the network announced its closing.
Still, the journalists and producers of Al Jazeera America don't necessarily see their closing as a failure.
In a written statement, CEO Al Anstey and President Kate O’Brian of Al Jazeera America praised their staff for their dedication to reporting with integrity:
"Throughout our short history we have held true to this mission.
We did so by putting the human being at the forefront of our editorial decisions: people across America and the world who are living the events taking place around them; people who are impacted by decisions made by governments, powerful individuals, or corporations.
People who would not otherwise have a voice in mainstream media unless we covered them.”
It must be something of a bittersweet moment for the channel's 700 employees who, after having spent the last several months knowing this day was coming, now find themselves without a job.