American TV News, by way of Qatar

The big news in the cable world this week was that Al-Jazeera America will be expanding its reach by an estimated ten million homes via Time Warner carriage. However, the Qatar government-owned news network has an anemic audience.

So far Al-Jazeera America’s programming has had few bright spots. The production quality has been questionable and the level of journalism has been somewhat limited. However, the network has landed news pros Soledad O’Brien and Ali Velshi. With CNN seemingly in total disarray — getting crushed by Fox News and MSNBC with such wise choices as bringing back the outdated, tired “Crossfire” with just about the most uninspiring group of pundits or whatever one would call them — Al Jazeera America has an opening to make up some much needed ground. The key will be if it can deliver a quality product with credibility, not that the other cable news networks necessarily hit a homerun in this department. There are incredibly deep pockets backing the effort. Possibly this fact can help bring back long-form, investigative journalism, something American television news is severely lacking.

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