As the Globe Spins
Alumnus joins newly launched Al Jazeera English
When Jeremy Young 00C was told by a fellow journalist about an opening at the fledgling television network Al Jazeera English—an offshoot of Al Jazeera Arabic—he wasn’t sure what to think.
“I didn’t know any more about Al Jazeera than most Americans do, just that they broadcast the Osama bin Laden videos,” he says.
But the idea of a news network concentrating on international coverage intrigued him.
Young, who has worked for MSNBC and VH1 and has reported from Pakistan and Afghanistan, says he was growing tired of the limited focus of broadcast news, with its emphasis on sensationalism and celebrity. “I want to do projects that are challenging and valuable,” he says, “and that shed light on parts of the world not covered by the mainstream media.”
Al Jazeera English, Young discovered, was courting esteemed journalists from diverse backgrounds and had already signed Riz Khan, former host of the CNN talk show Q&A; Dave Marash, formerly with ABC’s Nightline; and veteran BBC journalist David Frost.
Several of Young’s friends were concerned for his safety, but most of his journalism mentors advised him to take the opportunity. So, even before the network began broadcasting, he accepted a position covering the Pentagon from Al Jazeera English’s Washington, D.C., office. “Most people are engaged and interested. It’s an opportunity to communicate information and stories to a large part of the globe they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. We’ve seen the importance of information—if you don’t provide it, others will fill the void.”
Al Jazeera English launched November 15, 2006, to more than eighty million cable and satellite households around the world, according to its website, although it has not found a major distributor in the United States. The network is available on the Internet (www.aljazeera.com) as a live stream.
The station is funded by the Emir of Qatar, who founded Al Jazeera Arabic in 1996. In its first decade, Al Jazeera Arabic became both a household word and a frequent target of controversy. The network aired the first live feed out of Iraq during Operation Desert Fox, tapes from Osama bin Laden and other top Al Qaeda officials, and does not shy away from gruesome images of civilian war casualties. Young says Al Jazeera English is a separate entity that will prove itself to be a credible source of news from a global perspective.
Al Jazeera English broadcasts twenty-four hours a day, switching from one part of the world to the next “as the globe spins.” One thing about his new position is certain, Young says: “When you swipe your ID card at the Pentagon and are wearing an Al Jazeera badge, you just know it’s not going to be boring.”—M.J.L.
Journalism was first taught at Emory in 1912, and became a full-fledged program in the 1930s and 40s complete with undergraduate and graduate divisions. But the program was disbanded in 1953 after a panel of deans branded it a “trade school.” More than four decades later, a journalism program returned to campus in 1996 with a $1.35 million endowment from the Cox Foundation, which also established a named professorship. The James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism is currently Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter from the New York Times.
The revival of Emory’s journalism program was the brainchild of Claude Sitton 49C, who received
a 1983 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. The program, led by Sheila Tefft, now has sixty students.
“We would like to think,” said Renee Williams 06C, a journalism and political science major who interned with United Press International, “that the profession still revolves around a few central truths—holding the powerful accountable and providing necessary information to the public.”