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Qatar: Al-Jazeera English turns one, looks to

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by Qatari newspaper Gulf Times website on 16 November

Al-Jazeera English's (AJE) editorial policy has been set to be the voice of the voiceless and to cover the under-represented areas of the world, head of output John Pullman told Gulf Times yesterday.

"Our aim has been to cover people, those who are deprived, powerless and poor and basically just go back to the street journalism," explained Pullman, who has had prior stints with ITN and ITV News before joining AJE.

AJE, part of the Al Jazeera network, celebrated its first anniversary yesterday, after the channel's birth was dubbed a "failed attempt" by sceptics but has instead won wider viewership and a string of international awards for its coverage of issues head-on.

"Today on our anniversary, we're reporting live from Nigeria, Haiti, Venezuela, Thailand, Syria, Pakistan and Kosovo. I'm not sure if any other broadcaster on earth can match our ambition," Pullman said.

He claimed AJE has had an extraordinary year of journalistic success. Pull! man was particularly proud of the channel's coverage of the crisis in Gaza, the uprising in Myanmar, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the way "our reporters have brought stories from across Africa and Latin America to the world's eyes."

"We tried to fill the vacuum because no one else was willing to do it. Even as we speak, the channel is airing or has aired such issues as Iraqi immigrants/refugees in Germany, gypsies in Italy, story of immigrants in Malta, poverty in the US," Pullman pointed out.

"Our findings were shocking. You'd be surprised to know the world's richest country has some of the poorest people on planet," added Pullman while shedding light on the "Poverty USA" series currently on air on AJE.

In 2004, readers of brandchannel.com voted Al Jazeera the fifth-most influential global brand and AJE has built on that reputation with a global audience of 100m households in a year's time.

"We're very popular across much of the world - in ! Pakistan, south-east Asia and Africa. I am confident that before long we will gain a strong foothold in the US," he said.

Asked if AJE is a diverse and welcoming place for journalists, Pullman said: "One of the things we have always aimed was to hire local reporters and we have anchors from Iran, Philippines, Australia, Pakistan and other countries, which lends an air of familiarity to the viewer."

"Personally, it's been a privilege to have been able to work with some of the world's most talented and dedicated journalists," Pullman said.

Asked if AJE has faced any difficulties in the region, after Al Jazeera Arabic caused panic in some countries in the Middle East, Pullman's answer was a resounding no.

"We've reported both from Kuwait and Jordan and have had no difficulty in moving about there. Saudi Arabia is a different issue, and it's more of a policy matter of the local government," explained Pullman, who went on to add that AJE enjoys immense support from its Arabic channel in all spheres of reporting. 

Source: Gulf Times website, Doha, in English 16 Nov 07



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