Al Jazeera America Plots More Bureaus, New Hires, Expanded Coverage and Programming

Ehab Al Shihabi

The young cable news net announces a morning show, more employees and beefed-up investigative reporting within 12 months.

Just over two months after it launched, Al Jazeera America on Tuesday announced accelerated plans for growth that include hiring more employees, a new headquarters, opening more bureaus around the U.S. and beefing up its schedule of programming -- including more investigative reporting.

Al Jazeera began life by acquiring Current TV for $500 million, but it hasn't revealed ratings since its first week amid reports that it has yet to attract a large audience. Still, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi said in a memo to employees that the growth plan was being implemented because "the channel has been so well received."

"The results from our first two months have been very encouraging," said Al Shihabi. "The critical acclaim, increased distribution and online interest in Al Jazeera America's unbiased, objective and in-depth coverage of the news has convinced us that we should fast-track our plans to meet the projected increased demand."

He added that the growth plan is possible because of the "spirit of the leadership group."

Al Jazeera president Kate O'Brian, formerly of ABC News, said the expansion is meant to enhance reporting and make the coverage even more relevant to the audience.

"More people and more bureaus plus our new programming will help us keep the promise we made to our viewers about always providing the highest possible quality journalism," she said. "Not only will you continue to see unbiased reporting about the stories that really matter, you'll see more of it from more places around the U.S."

Al Jazeera America already has 12 U.S. news bureaus but now will add an unspecified number of additional bureaus across the country over the coming year. The memo says this is being done so that it can report stories not typically covered elsewhere.

There will also be an enhanced schedule with a new morning news program, a weekly sports program, a weekly culture show and several new documentary series. "There will also be a renewed emphasis on investigative reporting," according to the memo.

The plan includes hiring more reporters, web, creative and business employees, and a move into new headquarters in Manhattan.

There will be a new promotional and marketing campaign, especially in markets where the channel is just being launched or expanded. Last week, Al Jazeera America announced an agreement with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to expand carriage, especially in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.