Al Jazeera America pulls satire hours after posting, calling it “not appropriate”

al jazeera america About 13 hours after posting a satirical piece it posted at 2:00 AM today listing six hot media startups to watch in 2016, Al Jazeera America has retracted it.

The satire? Al Jazeera itself is listed as #6, even though the channel is scheduled to close down in April.

In its place is the following message:

Editor’s note: Al Jazeera America has removed the satirical piece originally posted on this link, which included commentary on our company that we believe was not appropriate given its imminent closure. Our goal in the closing stages of AJAM online and on TV is to honor the exceptional journalism and journalists that distinguished our brand, to maintain the respect that we have always shown to those we have covered since our launch, and to uphold our promise to deliver the highest quality journalism to our readers until the very last. We believe the satirical piece originally at this link failed to live up to these goals. We offer our apologies to our readers and to our staff.

The removal of “Six hot media startups to watch in 2016” move prompted heavy reactions on Twitter:

There’s a web archive version of the article here. An excerpt, of a section on Pando Daily:

After the NSFW acquisition, the outlet expanded from its “TechCrunch Squared” focus on startups to a more hyperglocal perspective: It combined startup funding news with the latest developments from Kiev. I would argue that no other news outlet on the Internet does such a great job of covering the intersection of Ukrainian politics, New Jersey “pay to play” scandals and startup funding.

The author is listed as Prof. Jeff Jarvis, with the same Twitter handle as the above message. His bio at the end of the story reads:

Prof. Jeff Jarvis is the world’s leading hyperglocal thinkfluencer and Journalism 3.0 advocate. He is cofounder of the Mogadishu:Reinvent unconference and CEO of Mogadishu Capital Partners LLC. He is not Jeff Jarvis.

But even the byline is a fake — the author’s real name is Rurik Bradbury, according to a 2012 piece in Slate. There is a real Jeff Jarvis, a professor at the City University of New York who writes about media and technology for Buzz Machine. Bradbury told Slate in 2012 why he adopted Jarvis’s moniker:

“I chose Jarvis because he epitomizes a certain type of ‘thinkfluencer,’ ” Bradbury told me, “someone with an online influence massively greater than the thoughtfulness of his positions. It’s all style and rhetorical flourishes which don’t stand up to scrutiny—but do grab attention.” But it’s not personal. “It’s more of a general parody: a composite of Jarvis, Seth Godin, the media ‘freetards’ who insist paywalls, etc., are bad by definition.”

Many other Twitter users commented on the site’s removal of the article.

While the piece was live, it drew out many comments by users who marveled at the decision to post the article.

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2 thoughts on “Al Jazeera America pulls satire hours after posting, calling it “not appropriate””

  1. For shame! If you can’t have a laugh during a slow decline into oblivion, then when?

    In all seriousness though, I hope the closure of AJ America doesn’t signal the decline of the brand as a whole. The @AJEnglish language news feed on Twitter is a pretty solid source for a non-western perspective on what’s happening in the Middle East. It’s a good place to find news on issues such as Israel/Palestine, UK arms sales to Saudi, and other hot potato topics that CNN, Fox or sometimes even PBS won’t dare to go near.

    1. I wondered if it was because it’s a bit of a snub to their own staff who presumably are all losing their jobs as a result of the closure. To the outsider it’s a pretty funny thing to do, but to their staff it must seem pretty callous.

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