Ray Suarez lands at AJA’s D.C.-based newsmag Inside Story

By Dru Sefton

Veteran public broadcasting newsman Ray Suarez, who resigned from PBS NewsHour Oct. 25 after nearly 15 years, will host Inside Story on satellite news channel Al Jazeera America starting Nov. 11.

Suarez

Suarez

The program, an interview-driven newsmag airing at 5 p.m. Eastern time weekdays, covers the major stories of the week from AJA’s Washington, D.C., bureau.

Suarez interviewed Al Jazeera EP Bob Wheelock in January, when the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network bought Al Gore’s Current TV.

Suarez told Current that back then, “heading there was not on my agenda, but I started to think about it. Then a close friend headed there, then another friend and colleague headed there, and said, ‘It’s a start-up, it’s a little frantic, but it’s fun, and they’re trying to do this the right way.’ Then I started to think a little more seriously about it.”

Suarez is one of several public broadcasters who have migrated to AJA, which premiered Aug. 20. One of Suarez’s colleagues at Inside Story is Libby Casey, who covers Capitol Hill and previously spent several years as Washington correspondent for the Alaska Public Radio Network and as a reporter and producer for KUAC in Fairbanks.

“At a time when the American news business is contemplating its future and struggling to retool the business model,” Suarez said, “joining a place that was growing rather than shrinking and dedicated to objective, fact-based journalism was very, very attractive.”

Suarez began talks with AJA and other news outlets this past summer, “when I finally concluded that I had absolutely no future with the NewsHour. When you’re in a lesser position in year 14 at a job than you were in during year two, and that is the way it’s going to stay, that’s enough. Treading water until I got my gold watch didn’t interest me particularly.” In an Oct. 28 broadcast interview, Suarez also told Fox News Latino that he exited NewsHour because his contributions had been minimized over the years.

Working for a foreign-based news organization did not give him pause, he said. “The day-to-day operations, the focus, the decision-making is American all the way.”

Suarez also said that AJA pays better than public television. “Commercial television generally pays better than public broadcasting,” he said. “Beyond that, the details are between me and the IRS.”

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