Almost two years after AJE launched a global news service, a different editorial voice is rippling out over the English-speaking airwaves – one that is rapidly gaining listeners overseas but goes almost unnoticed in the US.
AJE now reaches 113 million homes around the world – almost half of what CNN International does, which has been around for 23 years. But the network can only be seen in two small US cable markets – one in northwest Ohio and another in Burlington, Vt. All of which raises a fundamental question: Will America ever be ready for the more aggressive – critics say biased – style of AJE? "The political environment in the US is not very conducive to Al Jazeera English penetrating the market," says Marwan Kraidy, an Arab media specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.
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AJE's broadcast center occupies four floors of a nondescript building in downtown Washington. Its newsroom is typical: Editors and producers sit at rows of computers in an open area sandwiched between a small control room and a soundstage cordoned off by black curtains. The anchor desk shimmers like a glass saucer at the center of the soundstage.