It turns out that the $500 million that Al Jazeera spent to buy Al Gore’s Current TV cable network was only the first round of a huge investment on Al Jazeera’s part in an effort to bring Al Jazeera to America in a big way. As David Freedlander reports for the Daily Beast:
Since launching its American outpost in January, the deep-pocketed network says it’s received 18,000 résumés for 170 open positions. By the time Al Jazeera America, as the new cable network will be called, launches in July, it will have 600 to 700 staffers on the editorial and technical side.
The new network will have nearly a dozen domestic bureaus and will rely on content from more than 70 overseas bureaus. The company is reported to be looking at prime New York real estate—in no less a bastion of American journalism than the former New York Times building—for its new headquarters. Executives at Al Jazeera say they are planning to compete with CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News on the belief that Americans crave substantive, deeply reported cable news, including foreign coverage.
One of the concerns that industry veterans have brought up regarding such a massive hiring push is that having that many positions to fill is going to lead to weak hiring standards that hurt quality in the long run. Bob Wheelock, the executive producer in charge of bringing the network stateside, doesn’t think that this is an issue because of all the quality journalists out of a job due to the state of the news industry:
Among the résumés he’s seen, he said, “There are some first year out of [journalism] school or college and they just want a job.” But he added, “We have an awful lot who are 10 or 15 or 20 years in the business and are just fed up with where they work, or they left where they work, or where they work told them you aren’t needed here anymore because we closed down our Chicago bureau or we closed down our Rome bureau.”