Al Jazeera America names president, interim CEO

Al Jazeera America, which launches on August 20, is to be headed up by interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi, with ABC News veteran Kate O'Brian serving as president.
July 22, 2013

Al Jazeera America, which launches on August 20, is to be headed up by interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi, with ABC News veteran Kate O’Brian serving as president.

Headquartered in New York City and with 12 bureaus across the U.S., the network will fall under the umbrella of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network. Further executive appointments are set to be made in due course.

Al Shihabi has been with Al Jazeera for five years, most recently as exec director for international operations, where he oversaw more than 70 bureaus around the world. He has helped in the development of Al Jazeera America, as well as Al Jazeera’s Balkans and Turkish channels.

O’Brian joins from ABC News, where she was senior vice president of news. She has also been general manager of programming for ABC News Radio, an overseas field producer in Rome and London, and producer for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

As president, she will be responsible for the editorial strategy and operations of the network, including documentary, news, and other programming.

“Kate’s arrival speaks volumes about what we intend to do and how we intend to do it,” said¬†acting director general Dr. Mostefa Souag. “She is a highly experienced and award-winning journalist who fully understands what Americans want to see and hear when they watch the news. Kate has the vision, tenacity and integrity to ensure that Al Jazeera America will quickly become the success we expect it to be.”

Shannon High-Bassalik will serve as senior vice president for documentaries and programs. She was previously at CNN, and also held roles at NBC Peacock Productions, where she was executive producer of development; MSNBC, as vice president of daytime program development; and senior news positions at a number local television stations.

David Doss is also joining the Al Jazeera America team from CNN, where he was senior executive producer for Anderson Cooper 360. As senior vice president for news programming, Doss will be based in New York City as well.

Marcy McGinnis has been appointed senior vice president of newsgathering. Her past roles include associate dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, CBS News’ senior vice president of news coverage, and London bureau chief for CBS News.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.