MEDIA

Al Jazeera America Anchor: Network Had 'Key Mission' To Protect The Voiceless

"In the end, we built it and they didn’t really come."

Ali Velshi, an anchor at the soon-to-be-shuttered Al Jazeera America, expressed his dismay Wednesday at the network's abrupt closure.

“While Americans, survey after survey, tell us how much they want the sort of thing we were doing... In the end, we built it and they didn’t really come," Velshi told The Huffington Post's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

"We really had a key mission -- and it was really different from the mission I've had for the entire rest of my career -- and that is, there is an entire population of voiceless people out there and we are the only chance to be their voice," he said. "The fact is, the voiceless doesn't have very good representation in the media."

Velshi said AJAM's closure demonstrates how difficult it is to "commercialize" the kind of news AJAM was doing, which he said has been relegated to public broadcasters or public news agencies. 

AJAM, which launched in August 2013, struggled to make gains in the ratings. During primetime hours the network had 30,000 viewers on average, while CNN, Velshi's former employer, saw a primetime average of 712,000.

Velshi also partly blamed the American news consumer for the shuttering of the network, saying that if an outlet can’t make the news “relevant” to the consumer or “stimulate their senses” -- regardless of how important a story may be -- they “won’t come in big enough numbers.” 

Disclosure: Judah Robinson previously worked as an intern at Al Jazeera.

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