Dear Al

Dear Al,
Al Jazeera America (AJAM) finds itself in the news for the most unfortunate reasons. In recent days, countless articles have covered the issues facing the fledgling network. Yet few have shared their views on what can be done to right the ship. That is where is D.C. Internationalist steps in for this special blog post. I hope you read my feedback as I used to be a journalist who also happens to have a great understanding of the U.S. and global news media landscape…who know what works, what doesn’t and why. These ideas, not terribly unique in nature, are aimed to help AJAM be far less bureaucratic, nimble, and sharper. If you’re in doubt, call me? Maybe?
Branding – The network has a weak on-air identity and even weaker tag line. There’s more to it, no pun intended. Who is your target audience? What is their age? What are you trying to convey? Here is a link to a recent tv news branding project that was very successful. Now, that’s what I call an identity. Sharp, clean, and powerful.
Resources – When a breaking news story develops, AJAM and AJE should not be sending their respective correspondents to cover the story. It’s a waste of money, time, and, resources to utilize multiple teams. I think one correspondent is capable of covering the story for both networks.
Programming – Partner more with independent production companies to provide scripted programming. Also, how about a Sunday AM show that invites foreign journalists based in DC and NY to offer their views of events here in the US? Flagships shows will need to be developed for the morning and evening hours so you attract a decent amount of advertising dollars. Develop a show that is co-anchored by an AJAM and AJE presenters. The show can go out live on the networks at the same time. Big savings there and fills in an hour of programming.
Website – Merge the AJAM website with the AJE website. Contribute to one main site where I can read stories by reporters of both networks. Segregating stories based on network affiliation is silly.

What I Know…

Well, well. It’s been a while since I blogged. But with good reason or shall I say reasons. Life. Work. Motivation. Indeed, there has been a lack of motivation on my part to continuously write and keep you folks interested.

I’ve been eager to write this post for some time and while my english and grammar may not be polished, I hope you will not hold that against me in what I consider to be my final post. I knew exactly what I wanted the post title to be. “What I Know” sums up the essence of what I would like to convey. It also is the title of a music theme played in AMC’s The Killing. it’s a beautiful track if you ever get a chance to listen to it.

So, what do I know? Five years ago, I started this blog knowing that it was my last chance to cling to an industry that I had worked so hard to try and become a part of. Despite starting a career in a different field, this blog was my ticket. I worked tirelessly to build on a theme or niche that readers would find distinctive with a voice that was peppered with a mix of tongue and cheek. Within a few months of launching, I convinced other bloggers to add me to their respective blogrolls and public relation professionals to add me to their mailing lists. With a combination of luck and persistence, I grew my readership and managed to attract some influential folks to follow me on Twitter.

You see, I wanted to be part of the media industry since my early days at university. I was passionate about communication and the world itself. Like my parents, I was born in one country and lived in many others so there was a certain desire on my part to bring the world closer together through storytelling. Along the way I had role models to give me the inspiration to pursue this very competitive industry. My own family members such as my great-granduncle – who contributed to Pakistan’s founding after India’s partition in 1947 – proved to be altruistic as well. But five years later, it’s time to put the pen down. Why? Well, I shall tell you.

What I know…is that while I consider myself to be lucky (to an extent), I don’t have the experience, talent or connections to continue pursuing a career in media. I don’t have the star power or wattage to attract decision makers in an industry that is struggling to survive and be profitable. I wish more folks would communicate this to students aspiring to be in media or journalism. I am not my great-granduncle. I am no Brian Stelter. I am no Imran Garda. I am no Adrian Finighan. And I am certainly no Mishal Husain. Unlike most in my generation, I do no consider myself to be special. I am not special and I never will be. I’m just me…an ordinary chap who may have grabbed your attention with a few posts and that is perfectly okay.

So with a heavy heart, I want to thank all of you for your support and reading this blog. While I may pop up every now and again, for now…it’s good night, and good luck.

The Interview: Sean Doyle, EVP of The Americas, British Airways

British Airways and IAD Celebrate Arrival of A380

As the British Airways A380 aircraft touched down last week at Dulles, D.C. Internationalist caught up Sean Doyle, EVP of The Americas in the following Q&A (unedited).

DCI: Why did BA bring the A380 to the DC market? Aging 747? Competition?

SD: Washington DC is an important destination in the British Airways network.  By nature of the industry sectors located in DC we know it is important to offer a superior, premium, experience and fast, efficient access to London and Europe.  Washington was a Concorde route for us for many years and we are proud to be bringing one of our most innovative aircraft into the market again. This marks the first and only nonstop A380 service between the two nations’ capitals.

In regard to our Boeing 747s, we will continue the daily BA292 between Washington DC and London. Some of our much-loved Boeing 747 aircrafts are to receive a cabin refresh as well as state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment systems from next year. The refit will include a cabin interior refresh, bringing these 747s more in line with the airline’s newest aircraft. New seat foams will be installed in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus to increase customer comfort, and new style seat covers fitted to improve appearance and match those on the A380 and 787. Carpets and curtains throughout the plane will also be replaced to the new aircraft color palette.

British Airways Dulles Lounge Dining

The BA Lounge at Dulles remodeled in line with “The Galleries” at Heathrow Terminal 5

DCI: How does BA plan to engage and get involved with the DC community to promote its offerings?

SD: We have a broad marketing campaign in place to support the launch, including out of home and digital advertising as well as awareness-building through social media channels. We are also participating in Taste of DC this year, promoting our Height Cuisine approach to food and the new flavors to discover in London. All proceeds from our participation in the event will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

Dulles 787 & A380 Services to Increase


Passengers using Dulles airport will have more options to fly the 787 Dreamliner and A380. For these airlines to use the newest and most technologically advanced aircraft shows how important and competitive the Washington market has become in recent years. In my opinion, the quality of your flight experience truly depends on the aircraft you fly.


British Airways: Service scheduled to begin October 2 with flight BA 216/217. The will be the second airline – after Air France – to fly the A380 to Dulles.

787 Dreamliner

Virgin Atlantic: British Airways arch rival will deploy the Dreamliner aircraft to Dulles effective December 17, 2014.

Etihad: The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will use the 787-9 effective January 1, 2015.

Note: Ethiopian currently uses the 787 for service to IAD.

Will D.C. get an ITSU or Caffe Nero?

As Americans care more about where their food is sourced from and turn less to the dinosaur chains of the 80’s and 90’s for grub, be on the lookout for two global players intent on benefiting from our love of fast-casual food. U.K.-based ITSU plans to re-enter the market (New-York) next year with its high-quality sushi offerings. ITSU was founded by Julian Metcalfe who also served as the co-founder of Pret A Manger. He’ll be well aware of the initial struggles Pret faced when first dishing out pre-packed sandwiches to us Yanks. 

This blog reached out to their press office as to whether D.C. was a target city, but the response was vague and – to be honest – unhelpful. Caffe Nero, a U.K.-based coffee chain, has already opened up shop in Boston with plans to open up more locations in that metro area. Caffe Nero seems to be positioning itself as an upscale Italian coffee shop to differentiate itself from the ubiquitous Starbucks. 

We’re confident that – at some point – both ITSU and Caffe Nero will open up in D.C. We have the right demographics, economy, and awareness for these new kids on the block to invade our city. Stay tuned…

Rosslyn Needs Better Dining Options

Pitiful. The best adjective that I can think of to describe the dining options in Rosslyn. The area bounded by North Lynn Street is even worse. It is astonishing to see an area filled with many professionals having such limited dining options. Hence, I’m compiling a wish list.

1. Prêt A Manger (Please replace Cosi)

2. Le Pain Quotidien or PAUL Bakery

3. Nando’s

4. Potbelly

5. Caffe Nero (First U.S. outpost in Boston)

6. Itsu Sushi (Considering US Expansion)

7. Five Guys

8. & Pizza

9. McDonalds (An upscale one, please)