Wadah Khanfar, the highly regarded director general of Al Jazeera resigned unexpectedly on September 20th. He used ‘twitter’ to tell followers that his goal had been to establish the news channel as a global media leader and that his target had been met.
Khanfar had been at the Doha-based channel for eight years. He will be replaced by Sheikh Ahmad bin Jasem al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family.
In a note to staff, Khanfar said media independence had been a “contradiction in terms” before Al Jazeera’s launch.”State media was prevalent and was blatantly used for propaganda and misinformation. Within such an environment the public probably doubted that Al Jazeera would fulfill its promise of independent journalism,” he said. “We managed to pleasantly surprise them by exceeding all expectations.”
However, there has been recent criticism, not helped by WikiLeaks revelations, that Al Jazeera has deliberately toned down its coverage of ‘Arab Spring’ events which are close to home, in particular the protests riots in nearby Bahrain earlier this year.