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Al Jazeera to Cut 500 Jobs

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is slashing 500 jobs, the news operation announced to staff on Sunday.

The cuts come about two months after Al Jazeera announced the closure of its U.S. offshoot, and are part of a “workforce optimization initiative.” In the memo, delivered to staffers in both English and Arabic, it pointed to a changing media landscape as a reason for the cuts.

Al Jazeera employs about 4,500 people. The majority of the cuts will be based in Qatar.

“In order to support the long-term sustainability and market leadership of Al Jazeera while continuing our recognized commitment to high quality, independent and hard-hitting journalism around the world, we have embarked on a workforce optimization initiative,” acting director general Mostefa Souag said in the statement.

The cuts come as 2022 World Cup host Qatar faces increasing budget pressures due to a drop in oil and gas prices, a huge part of the Middle East Emirate’s economy. The price of crude has hit $40 per barrel — down from $100 per barrel in summer 2014.

Al Jazeera launched in 1996 with backing from former Qatar emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Arabic-language news channel expanded, and now includes 70 bureaus worldwide.

It faced difficulties, however, in the U.S. market. Al Jazeera America struggled to attract viewers after launching in October 2013, and announced that it would shutter the operation in January.

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