In addition to this week's top news stories, there has been a bit of a shake up in the news media world.

Al Jazeera America, a new cable news channel whose parent company is based in Qatar, launched nationwide Tuesday on major cable networks like Comcast, DIRECTV and DISH Network, but not on others such as AT&T U-verse TV.

See complete coverage on our Media Watch/Media Bias news page.

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Other international news companies, such as the BBC and The Guardian, have also made major moves into the US. And of course, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos just recently purchased The Washington Post (AllSides Bias Rating Lean Left). 

But why all the interest when the news media as an industry has been financially suffering? These companies see a big problem with most major US news. Time and again, they point to the lack of balance, "hard news" (fact based, deeper reporting and investigative journalism), and too much entertainment instead of news.

Here is what Al Jazeera is saying (as reported by the New York Times article, Al Jazeera America Promises a More Sober Look at the News):


“Viewers will see a news channel unlike the others, as our programming proves Al Jazeera America will air fact-based, unbiased and in-depth news,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, the channel’s acting chief executive, on a news conference call last week. He was explicit about what will be different, saying, “There will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings.”  

See more in this Al Jazeera America video shown in its first 5 minutes broadcasting.

But not everyone sees things the way Al Jazeera America does. The National Review (AllSides Bias Rating Right) sees an "anti-American undercurrent". NPR (AllSides Bias Rating Center) reports that

"Some conservatives in particular mistrust Al Jazeera for the often contentious stances its Arabic commentators have taken toward the U.S. and Israel. But it has also won praise for much its coverage of the Arab Spring."

Just including Al Jazeera America on cable raises concerns for some, especially when networks have decided not to carry other news cable channels. For example, TheBlaze, a very popular news site from the Right, has a growing cable channel that is on dozens of cable networks but not on some of the major ones that are carrying Al Jazeera America.  In an email, TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck welcomed more voices to the table and wrote:

"We want TV providers to give their customers the CHOICE of watching TheBlaze, the same way many of them have given their audience the choice of watching Al Jazeera America."


In an effort to get into more cable packages nationwide, TheBlaze launched a "GetTheBlaze Day of Action" to coincide with the launch of Al Jazeera America.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera America is suing AT&T for making a last-minute decision to drop them.

My perspective? The press is an integral part of our democracy and society, and anything we can do to improve journalism will help our nation. We see all of these moves as confirmation of our belief that today's news environment can be and must be improved, and that there is a very real business opportunity here. We think our unique approach, which uses the crowd to verify true balance, not only provides a service to our readers and partners, but also will help improve the future shape of journalism overall.

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Update September 10, 2013 Numerous headlines shortly after the Al Jazeera launch, including ratings reports, getting shut out of Egypt, and losing an anchor. See these headlines on our Media Watch/Media Bias topic page.