Al Jazeera America announces hires of local reporters

The director of Al Jazeera Morocco, Abdelkader Kharroub, sits in an office of the news channel headquarters on October 29, 2010 in Rabat. Morocco has suspended the operations of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television news channel in Rabat and withdrawn the accreditations of its staff, the commmunications ministry said on October 29, 2010. The ministry said the sanctions followed ‘numerous failures in (following) the rules of serious and responsible journalism.’ Credit: AFP/Getty Images

If you turn on your local news and notice your favorite reporter is no longer on-air, you might want to check Al Jazeera America. That’s because the network has jut announced a slew of new hires from a variety of local markets.

According to a press release from the network on Tuesday (published on TV Spy), Al Jazeera America has hired five reporters from within major local markets. The network plans on keeping the reporters stationed near their areas, as the hiring announcement was accompanied by news of the network’s plans to open a number of bureaus across the country.

The reporters hired include Ash-har Quraishi in Chicago, Heidi Zhou-Castro in Dallas, Bisi Onile-Ere in Detroit,  Natasha Ghoneim in Miami, Jonathan Martin in Nashville, and Allen Schauffler in Seattle.

The network also announced the assignments of some national personalities, including former MSNBC/NBC correspondent Jennifer London in Los Angeles, one-time ABC News correspondent Paul Beban in Denver, former Associated Press and Fox News producer Robert Ray in New Orleans, and CSPAN host Libby Casey in Washington, DC.

“The extraordinary team of correspondents, producers and crews we have assembled has the experience to find and report stories that will resonate with our national audience,” Marcy McGinnis, Al Jazeera America’s senior vice-president, newsgathering, said in the release.

The release went on to name the cities that will house the network’s bureaus: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Below are the bios the release provided for each hire, as well as a video we could find of the reporters. Recognize anyone?

Ash-har Quraishi

Chicago: Ash-har Quraishi will be Al Jazeera America’s Chicago correspondent. Before joining Al Jazeera America, Quraishi was a correspondent for WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station, where he reported for the nightly news program Chicago Tonight and contributed to the PBS NewsHour. Quraishi also served as the chief investigative reporter for the CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Mo., and as CNN’s Islamabad bureau chief and correspondent immediately following the September 11 attacks.

Quraishi has received a CINE Golden Eagle Award, a Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club, three National Headliners and five Emmy Awards. In 2009, he received an Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting. Quarishi also co-produced the award-winning documentary “Fordson” that was named Best U.S. Documentary Feature at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival in 2011.

Heidi Zhou Castro

Dallas: Former YNN Austin evening and weekend news anchor Heidi Zhou Castro will be based out of the new Al Jazeera bureau in Dallas, Texas. She has reported in Texas since 2007 for YNN and also worked as a Spanish-language reporter in Galapagos, Ecuador.

Zhou-Castro received the 2010 Texas AP Broadcast Award for Best Investigative reporting and the 2008 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.

Paul Beban

Denver: Paul Beban, a former producer for Al Jazeera English, will be the correspondent in Denver, Colorado. Beban has won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature in a News Magazine; an Emmy Award for Outstanding Analysis of a Business or Financial Story, Long Form; and George Foster Peabody and Alfred I. duPont Awards as a member of the ABC News 9/11 coverage team. He spent several years at ABC News as a correspondent, producer and writer.

Here is is giving an in-depth look at the brothel industry in Nevada (content warning for some unsavory images):

Bisi Onile-Ere

Detroit: Bisi Onile-Ere will be AL Jazeera’s correspondent in Detroit, Michigan. Onile-Ere previously reported for WDIV-TV, Detroit’s NBC affiliate. She also was an anchor and reporter at WJRT-TV, the ABC affiliate in Flint, Michigan. She began her career at KDLH in Duluth, Minn. as a morning anchor, reporter and producer, and at WCCO in Minneapolis, Minn. Onile-Ere has won two Emmy Awards and an Associated Press Award.

Jennifer London

Los Angeles: Jennifer London, former national correspondent for NBC Network News and MSNBC, will be Al Jazeera America’s Los Angeles correspondent. In addition to her work at NBC, London was a correspondent at KCET in Los Angeles and also worked for HDNet’s World Report.

London’s work has earned her an Emmy Award for investigative reporting, an Alfred I. duPont Award, three LA Press Club Awards, a Golden Mike Award and a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Natasha Ghoneim

Miami: Natasha Ghoneim will be Al Jazeera America’s correspondent in its new Miami bureau. Ghoneim previously worked as a general assignment reporter covering local and national breaking news for stations across the country including KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, Calif., WDIV-TV in Detroit, Mich. and KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas. Ghoneim also produced foreign affairs stories at Blouin News, reported breaking news for NY1 in New York City, and was a reporter for Al Ahram Online in Cairo, Egypt.

Jonathan Martin

Nashville: Award-winning journalist Jonathan Martin will join Al Jazeera America as the correspondent in its new Nashville bureau. Martin previously worked as a reporter and anchor for WSMV-TV in Nashville. He also spent several years as a radio and television reporter in Augusta and Atlanta, Georgia. Martin has earned two Associated Press-Alabama journalism awards and is a national recipient of the coveted CBS News Ed Bradley Award.

Robert Ray

New Orleans: Robert Ray will serve as correspondent for the New Orleans bureau. Before joining Al Jazeera America, Ray reported across all media platforms for the Associated Press. Ray also was a producer and videographer for Fox Business and Fox News Channel and an executive producer, videographer, editor and writer for the Emmy Award-winning series Inside Chicago at WTTW-PBS in Chicago.

Ray received the 2012 National Press Club’s breaking news award for his coverage of the tornado in Joplin, Mo. and a contributor to a national Edward R. Murrow Award.

Allen Schauffler

Seattle: Local Seattle news anchor, KING Channel 5’s Allen Schauffler will report for Al Jazeera America from its new Seattle bureau. Schauffler spent more than 20 years at KING as an anchor, reporter, show-host and the station’s primary correspondent for the last seven Olympic Games. He also served as an anchor, reporter and producer for KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Libby Casey

Washington D.C.: Libby Casey will be Al Jazeera America’s correspondent in Washington, D.C. Casey most recently was a host and producer for C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, the channel’s three-hour morning political and public affairs show. Before that she was the Washington correspondent for the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Casey has received Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Silver Reel and Alaska Press Club Awards. She received a Public Service Award from the Alaska Press Club for “Remembering the Fallen,” a series which profiled soldiers killed in Iraq.

Al Jazeera has long been ridiculed for its Islamist bent. Just this spring Iraq suspended the networking licenses of the channel for “promoting violence and sectarianism.” Earlier this month, TheBlaze reported on how the network was in trouble in Egypt for being too pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Twenty-two staffers resigned in principle in that country where things had gotten so bad the network was even dubbed “Al Jazeera Brotherhood.”

But that hasn’t stopped Hillary Clinton in the past from calling it “real news,” it hasn’t stopped President Obama from watching, and at the State Department “when you go down the hallway, you see it on virtually every TV and computer.”

“They are a really important media entity, and we have a really great relationship with them,” Dana Shell Smith said in 2011. She was the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement at the time.

Still, as we pointed out on TheBlog earlier this year, “In 2004, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called Al Jazeera’s reporting ‘vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.’”

Kelsey Drapkin contributed to this report.

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