At the top, AJE is governed by a team of news executives. But overall, a board of directors and code of ethics govern both the Arabic channel and AJE. The two channels do put reporters on each other's broadcasts.
AJE decidedly doesn't target an American audience with stories, which may be one reason it doesn't have much of one. Producers say stories have to reach a certain "threshold" of interest or importance – to have as much curiosity for someone in Islamabad as in Iowa. "It's about broadcasting to a world audience," says McKinney.
Even when it does do a US-based story, it isn't always the standard fare you might see on other channels. "What we didn't cover is the marine who murdered his pregnant girlfriend," says Mr. Stebbins. "We didn't touch the Mormon ranch ... story. We make an effort to reveal dimensions of the US that have not been seen before."
Stebbins was the first employee hired by the company for its North American operation before AJE's launch in November 2006. A former Associated Press broadcaster, he is not reticent to defend what he calls the "Al Jazeera tradition." "What Al Jazeera Arabic has done is really brought into the center voices that were previously marginalized in the Middle East," he says. "Nobody heard from the Egyptian opposition before Al Jazeera, nobody heard from Saudi dissidents before Al Jazeera. We're certainly trying to do the same thing in the US."