In a warren of offices at a former bank building near Madison Square Garden, dozens of journalists are at work on gleaming new electronic equipment, ready to turn their test runs of Al-Jazeera America into the real thing.
The Qatar-based news organization finally will establish a firm foothold on American television today after a decade of trying. At 3 p.m. EDT, Al Gore’s former Current TV will turn out the lights in more than 45 million TV homes, replaced by the new U.S. affiliate of Al-Jazeera.
The network has hired many veterans of U.S. television, including John Seigenthaler, Joie Chen, Antonio Mora and Sheila MacVicar, and is promising a meaty diet of news that it believes will contrast with the opinionated talk that dominates American news networks.
“We’re breaking in with something that we think is unique and are confident, with our guts and some research, that the American people are looking for,” said Kate O’Brian, the former ABC News executive who is Al-Jazeera America’s president.