Al Jazeera America today announced it will shut down operations on April 30 – less than 3 years after its launch. The closing of the cable network, attributed to economic reasons, means hundreds of employees will lose their jobs.
Antonio Mora and Ray Suárez, who joined AJAM in 2013 are among the high-profile casualties. Antonio’s show “Consider This” was canceled last year, but he currently anchors the 9 pm international news hour and Ray hosts “Inside Story.”
“I came to Al Jazeera with the highest of hopes, and will be proud to say I worked here,” Ray tells Media Moves. “Daily, there were phenomenal reports, interviews, documentaries that no one else was putting on, no one else would invest in. I am sorry the grand experiment failed.”
Al Jazeera purchased Current TV from founder Al Gore for $500 million and invested heavily into hiring about 800 journalists for AJAM, promising to bring real news to the U.S. cable network spectrum by producing investigative journalism and avoiding meaningless celebrity gossip and talking head opinion shows.
“I have loved working at a network that was dedicated to smart, serious non-partisan news,” says Antonio. “I felt AJAM provided a valuable new source to most of the country and I am very sad this chapter in my life is ending.”
In a story published on AJAM’s website CEO Al Anstey praised staff for their award-winning, quality journalism and vowed to maintain the network’s standards of excellence until the very end.
“Between now and April, we will continue to show America why AJAM has won respect and the fierce loyalty of so many of our viewers,” Anstey wrote in an email to staff. “Through your remarkable work at AJAM, we have shown that there is a different way of reporting news and providing information. The foundation of this is integrity, great journalism, impartiality and a commitment to the highest quality story telling. This will be our lasting impact, and as we produce and showcase the best of our work in the weeks to come, this will be clear for everyone to see.”
For Antonio, Ray and the hundreds of others that will be out of work in a few months, there is great uncertainty as to where they will go next.
“I’m a little worried about my own future, of course, given the realities of the business in 2016, and worried about the wonderful people I had a chance to work with,” says Ray. “I hope people tune in during these final months. I’ll still be giving it my best shot, every day.”