Friday, October 19, 2012

'British survey (unpublished) by Aljazeera revealed a decline in viewership by 37%'

 'Your highness, fasten your seat belt!
"Shortly after posting on the decline of Al-Jazeerah yesterday (and the post dealt only with the decline of Aljazeera net in terms of figures and ranking on Alexa), I received a phone call from an inside source at Aljazeera who does not wish to be identified for obvious reasons.  He confirmed my general impression and my posts and told me that an inside survey (unpublished) by Aljazeera that was conducted some 6 months ago revealed a decline in viewership by 37% (he said that this was part of a study commissioned to a British firm).  He said that the departure of Waddah Khanfar made a difference in staffing: that the Hamas folks who were hired by Waddah were all removed and that the news staff all belong to Al-Ikhwan.  He tells me that the Tunisia office is now run and staffed practically by An-Nahdah party, and that the Cairo office is staffed by Ikhwan, like the office in Turkey.  He said that the recent hire for the Beirut office was someone who fought with an Islamist gang in Aleppo.  Ahmad Zaydan of the Pakistan office is a well-known Bin Ladenite, he confirmed to me.  As for the new director of Al-Jazeera (who replaced Waddah), he said that he has no knowledge or even interest in news, that he is basically a financial manager.  There is, he added, a campaign to replace the non-Qatari staff with Qataris.  He said that there is a big problem of morale at the network but that people don't want to quit and look for jobs.  Some, he said, hoped to join the Arabic Skynews but that its political leanings and reputation are problematic.  He told me (as I have known) that the Emir himself runs the network and gives the marching orders.  People at the network only follow orders.  The orders, he said, is obsessive about Syria hoping that the network would bring down the Syrian regime.  He said that there are no secular Arab nationalists at the network left anymore.  He also told me about organization chaos: that each branch of Aljazeera hires a Western firm to advise on development and feasibility and that millions are squandered in that regard.  He added that the folks at Al-Jazeerah are fully aware of the decline in viewership but feel that there is nothing that they can do because the orders are all-Syria, all the time, to the exclusion of other stories and to the disregard of the professional standards.  He said that those who worry about their careers and who want to be promoted feel that they can only please their superiors and please the Emir by offering more propaganda services on the Syrian question.  Once there was a decent professional network called Al-Jazeera. "

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