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Why Is Al Jazeera Setting Up Shop In Detroit?

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A Saudi woman watches images on Arabic satellite news channel Al-Jazeera featuring news on Osama bin Laden's death in Riyadh on May 2, 2011.(credit: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

A Saudi woman watches images on Arabic satellite news channel Al-Jazeera featuring news on Osama bin Laden’s death in Riyadh on May 2, 2011.(credit: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

DETROIT (WWJ) - Al Jazeera network is opening a Detroit bureau this summer.

Bob Wheelock, Executive Producer of Al Jazeera English, says the move is part of the network’s plan to branch out across the country.

Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 on Thursday, Wheelock said — despite reports to the contrary — Al Jazeera is not putting down roots in Michigan because Detroit has the largest Arab American community in the U.S.

“We’re opening up bureaus across American — small bureaus, but enough to give us more coverage across the country,” Wheelock said. “[We] try to have bureaus in places where other networks are not.

“Detroit is one place, obviously; New Orleans is another, Nashville … cities like that where we think there’s great coverage of the cities themselves, the states they’re in, and then regional coverage that we can provide by being places strategically around the country,” he said.

Wheelock said there is room for Al Jazeera in America, despite the fact that many already feel overwhelmed with 24-hour news.

“The market research shows that there’s about 50-and-a-half million viewers who feel under-served with what they get today,” Wheelock said. “Some have tuned out completely from television news. Some watch loyally still, but aren’t happy with it.

“That’s the white space. That’s the real estate that we want to do for,” he continued.

Wheelock also said it’s important to change the perceptions some Americans may have of the existing Al Jazeera network.

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