Al Jazeera America unpublished a satire article that joked about the news organization in light of its forthcoming April shutdown for financial reasons. In January, Al Jazeera America’s CEO Al Anstey announced the cable news channel’s closure.
The Feb. 25 opinion article posted on Al Jazeera America’s website, “Six hot media startups to watch in 2016,” was written by Prof. Jeff Jarvis — not the real journalist and professor by that name, but a parody account known in the media/tech world with more than 18,000 Twitter followers.
The five outlets besides Al Jazeera America listed in the satire article were the DoDo, The New Republic (recently sold), Pando Daily, Fusion and Mic. Regarding Al Jazeera America, the article described the news organization as “an innovative mash-up of aging Qataris and US millennials” who paid “the bargain price of $500 million” for the network. The New Republic‘s owner Chris Hughes announced the sale of the magazine to publisher and editor Win McCormack just yesterday.
The article claimed:
“But who says that going retro can’t be innovative? Rather than leaping ‘over the top’ to reach people, they picked a ‘through the wall’ strategy, in what I feel is a very bold gambit to tempt Fox News’ 60-something-year-old viewers over to the AJAM camp. At the same time, the company has its eye on the long-term: positioning themselves to capture the millennial audience when it hits AARP age.
“Time will tell whether this gambit succeeds, but I certainly applaud the Qataris for ignoring the naysayers and running straight through the wall.”
An editor’s note in place of the article explains Al Jazeera America didn’t think the article’s inclusion of Al Jazeera America was “appropriate given its imminent closure.” The editor’s note reads:
“Editor’s note: Al Jazeera America has removed the satirical piece originally posted on this link, which included commentary on our company that we believe was not appropriate given its imminent closure. Our goal in the closing stages of AJAM online and on TV is to honor the exceptional journalism and journalists that distinguished our brand, to maintain the respect that we have always shown to those we have covered since our launch, and to uphold our promise to deliver the highest quality journalism to our readers until the very last. We believe the satirical piece originally at this link failed to live up to these goals. We offer our apologies to our readers and to our staff.”
A spokesperson for Al Jazeera America declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the article beyond the editor’s note.
On Twitter, the author of the unpublished article, the person behind parody account Prof Jeff Jarvis, indicated Al Jazeera America wasn’t duped into publication, Mediaite reported.
— Prof. Jeff Jarvis (@ProfJeffJarvis) February 25, 2016