Al Shihabi’s departure, confirmed to CNN by two editorial employees, ends more than a week of speculation surrounding his role at the network after an executive shuffle that saw him being replaced by Al Anstey, formerly managing director of Al Jazeera English. On the day Al Shihabi was ousted, media reports were conflicted as to his future at Al Jazeera America: Writing for The New York Times, John Koblin reported that the erstwhile network head’s departure was “imminent.” In The Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove wrote that Al Shihabi would continue on as chief operating officer.
Now Al Shihabi’s presence seems to have faded entirely from the network — CNN cites one source who says the ex-Al Jazeera America boss has moved to Doha, where Al Jazeera Media Network is located, and notes that he’s been removed from the network’s masthead.
The transition at AJAM came shortly after a damning New York Times story that catalogued a list of hardships for the network. Three CEOs departed in short order — including one who attributed her exit to a “culture of fear” — and the network has endured low ratings plus a discrimination lawsuit from an ex-employee.
On Monday, Al Anstey sent a memo to employees at Al Jazeera America that sought to buoy their expectations for the network’s future:
“We have a critically important job to do. To tell the stories, and cover people caught up in events, that need to be heard. To provide information that is trusted, that challenges, that informs, and ultimately that inspires,” Anstey wrote. “This may sound like great PR, but it is a fact.”