Al Jazeera Director General Resigns

By Alex Weprin 

The director general of Al Jazeera, Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani, resigned his post today as he was named Minister of Economy and Trade in the government of Qatar. Al Thani is a Qatari royal, and did not have television or journalism experience before taking over Al Jazeera in 2011. Al Jazeera is funded by the Qatari government, even as it expands internationally.

Later this year it will launch a new cable news channel in the U.S., Al Jazeera America. A new chief executive has not yet been announced for AJAM, though TVNewser hears that Al Thani had met with some of the leading candidates in Doha before tendering his resignation.

“The strategies we adopted have started to bear Fruits,” Al Thani wrote in an email to staff today. “Today our content is recognized as world class, built on the best newsrooms and the largest newsgathering network globally. Al Jazeera’s programs have expanded into innovative formats that produced at the highest professional standards, with many new programs on the way.”

His full note to staff, after the jump.

Dear Colleagues,

It was almost two years ago I joined you at Al Jazeera Media Network, taking on a challenging mission together to continue the success and accomplishments of this great Network. We continued the distinguished journey that started with the birth of a channel that defied all norms and constraints and set a precedent for rest of the industry to follow.

Today, with heavy heart I bid you all farewell, only after making sure we are on the right course to overcome future challenges. Today I leave Al Jazeera to answer another call, to serve my country, with full confidence of your continued success. Together we have formulated a robust strategy to continue the development of this Network into the leading and most trusted media institution in the world.

The strategies we adopted have started to bear Fruits. Today our content is recognized as world class, built on the best newsrooms and the largest newsgathering network globally. Al Jazeera’s programs have expanded into innovative formats that produced at the highest professional standards, with many new programs on the way. Our investigative journalism has delivered unprecedented insights to global audience and we will continue to lead with the expansion of our permanent investigative teams in the Middle East, Europe and North America and around the world.

We have also expanded our distribution platforms in all continents to reach more viewers, reaching a large majority of households in all corners of the world including in Australia, India and United Kingdom. We have also expanded our digital platforms with award winning applications and magazines, as well as winning several prestigious awards for our journalism, programs, digital platforms and creative output.

The new strategies have allowed us to continue expanding globally and increase our viewership, while sustaining a leading position in the industry and maintaining Al Jazeera Arabic’s lead over all other competitors combined by a wide margin. Our English news channel has achieved double-digit growth in viewership in many markets surpassing well-established channels. Al Jazeera’s thirst for success continue with our ambitious global expansion plans with launch of new channel and exploring new horizons, which includes the launch of several new channels: Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera Turk and Al Jazeera UK, in addition to re-launching Al Jazeera Egypt channel having secured a broadcast license.

Al Jazeera Center for Studies and Al Jazeera Training Center, have reached new heights, the Center for Studies was ranked as 6th in the region competing with well-established think tanks and research institutes, while Training Center grown by doubling the number trainees and training programs, with initiatives both in Doha and MENA region.

Internally, we have also accomplished a lot, developing several improved policies and processes raising our efficiency and reducing bureaucracy, including new unified editorial standards that will be published soon.

We have also launched several major projects to upgrade our broadcast and information technology to be state of the art, building new offices, newsrooms and several studios.

I am also happy to announce that we have obtained the board of directors’ approval on our new organizational restructure and human resources policies, which will be implemented soon. Our support services are improving every day and are on a path to be world class. Our news and programs production processes have also been redesigned around best practice value chains to improve our production efficiencies and quality.

To all colleagues in Doha and around the world who share my affinity for this great Network, working hard in newsrooms, in studios, on the field, behind cameras, microphones, computers and desks, I leave you with great pride for having worked with such trustworthy and dependable people. I saw in you a level of courage and persistence that is unique and powerful, always seeking to inform the world and stand by humanity, regardless of the challenges you face. For this, many of you have devoted their valuable family time, given their freedom or even their lives.

This is the hallmark of Al Jazeera, being there for people seeking knowledge and the other opinion. Together we have placed Al Jazeera at the top of the media world with a clear strategy for the future.

You all will always be on my mind and in my heart, wherever I go.

Thank you and good luck to all of you.