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.
• • •
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.
The staff is something of a mini-UN: It includes Americans, Canadians, Britons, as well as Colombians and Lebanese. Mr. McKinney is a former Scottish TV journalist, as is evident from his brogue.
AJE operates independently of Al Jazeera Arabic, maintaining its own bureaus, journalists, and production staff – as well as broadcast centers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Doha, Qatar; London; and Washington. Each center is responsible for part of the channel's 24-hour broadcast and has "regional authority" when it comes to making editorial decisions. "That's the dramatic change that Al Jazeera English represents," says Will Stebbins, the Washington bureau chief, of the local decisionmaking.