Al Jazeera exodus: Channel losing staff over ‘bias’



Qatari TV Channel Al Jazeera is gripped with loud resignations. Key employees in its Beirut office have reportedly resigned over the “biased” stance the television sticks to.

Al Jazeera has recently lost several of its key employees in the Beirut office: Managing Director Hassan Shaaban resigned his post, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported on Sunday. This follows a series of resignations by the television’s staff in the office, including correspondent Ali Hashem and producer Mousa Ahmad.

While little is known about the resignation of Hassan Shaaban, other than he quit over the biased policy of the channel in covering the Arab Spring – especially events in Syria and Bahrain – there is more information concerning correspondent Ali Hashem.

The latter resigned his post last Tuesday and emails leaked by the Syrian hackers showed his frustration over the channel’s policies in covering the events in Syria, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar quoted a source in the station as saying.

"You can check the emails he sent to his colleague, Rula Ibrahim, to know his position which changed after the station refused to show photos he had taken of armed fighters clashing with the Syrian Army in Wadi Khaled. Instead [Al Jazeera] lambasted him as a shabeeh [implying a regime loyalist],” the source said.

The reporter is also said to have been embarrassed with the channel’s refusal to cover the uprising in Bahrain. “[In Bahrain], we were seeing pictures of a people being butchered by the 'Gulf's oppression machine', and for Al Jazeera, silence was the name of the game,” according to the source.

Hassan Shaaban and Ali Hashem were not the only Al Jazeera employees upset with the channel’s policies to the extent they were ready to resign. Recent weeks also saw a resignation of Moussa Ahmad, the channel’s producer in Beirut. Ahmad accused Al Jazeera of bias and said that the channel had totally ignored the referendum on the new constitution in Syria.

According to the newspaper’s source, the exodus of the staff of Al Jazeera is caused by the fact that most of its reporters come from prestigious schools of journalism which teach against biased reporting and also see the truth by themselves as field reporters.

Journalist and author Afshin Rattansi, who used to work for Al Jazeera, told RT that, “sadly”, the channel has progressed from being the region’s revolutionary channel for openness to a one-sided voice for Qatari government’s stance against Bashar al-Assad.

“It is very disturbing to hear how Al Jazeera is now becoming this regional player for foreign policy in a way that some would arguably say the BBC and others have been for decades,” he said. “If Al Jazeera Arabic is going to take a war-like stance after [the] Qatari government, this would be very ill.”


“There is the courage of these journalists, however, in saying ‘Look, this is not the way we should be covering this. There are elements of Al-Qaeda in there,’” Rattansi concluded. “The way Al Jazeera Arabic has covered the story of Syria is completely one-sided.”

Journalists and anti-war activist Don Debar, who has also had Al Jazeera experience, confirmed that the station has been heavily guided by the Qatari government in its policies.

“That has been ongoing since last April of 2011,” Debar told RT. “The head of the bureau in Beirut quit, many other people quit because of the biased coverage and outright hand of the government in dictating editorial policy over Libya, and now Syria.”

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