Meet Antonio Mora, host of Al Jazeera America’s talk show, “Consider This.” The award-winning newsman cites how, as a Cuban exile, politics affected his life at an early age and inspired his love of news and his interest in interviewing people from all walks of life. What can we expect to see from Antonio and “Consider This”? Read on.
What kinds of guests will you have on “Consider This”?
We’re going to have a little bit of everything and everyone. We’ll have policymakers, authors and the occasional celebrity. We’re also going to have just as many real people who are affected by whatever issues we will be discussing that night. Our plan is to have a least two significant topics to discuss on any given night. We want to include voices from all over the country, even if we don’t have them on the show as guests on television. We’ll have guests in our studio, in Al Jazeera America bureaus and even from their laptop screens if that’s the only way we can reach them. Our digital team will drive a strong social media presence that will translate on the air. Our social media producer, Hermela Aregawi, is actually going to be monitoring our Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages to see what questions our viewers have and to bring them into the on-air show.
Tell me about the types of projects and stories you hope to be working on in the near future.
I really hope to be working on stories dealing with subjects and issues that affect Americans across the country: education, the economy, the global war on terror -- you name it, we are going to focus on it. One big advantage we have is that we will have time to discuss these issues in depth. We won’t be limited to interviews that last only a couple of minutes like the ones you may see on network morning shows. We are talking about dedicating a half hour or more to some pieces so that we can analyze the stories from every angle.
What is the most rigorous assignment you’ve ever taken on over the course of your career?
I think covering natural or man-made disasters is always the hardest because you spend days with people whose lives have been completely destroyed in a matter of minutes. It’s emotionally difficult because you know you can go back to your life while the people who are the subjects of the stories you tell will need years to rebuild. Few things were harder for me than talking to families who, days after 9/11, were still searching for loved ones, hoping for a miracle.
How did you get to this point in your career?
A whole lot of work! I love news and what I do. I love talking to people and learning about them and what they think. And I think being open-minded and respecting other people’s different viewpoints also helps. I also try my best to ask questions that people want answered and to do so fairly, regardless of where my guests are on the political spectrum.
Was there a person or a moment that inspired you to pursue journalism and news?
My life story and personal journey undoubtedly inspired my career choice. I was a Cuban exile. My family left about a year-and-a-half after Fidel Castro came into power. My parents hadn’t expected that Castro would be a Communist, but when it became clear that he was, they no longer wanted to live under a Communist regime. So my life, and where I lived, was determined by politics, which was a constant topic of conversation at home. That led to my interest in politics and public affairs at a very early age. So my family’s experiences are what landed me in the field of journalism.
How do you think the diversity at Al Jazeera America will impact the way the news and stories are told?
I’m a firm believer that you need variety in the newsroom in order to be able to properly cover the news accurately and completely. This country is unbelievably diverse, and everyone has a different perspective. If you don’t have a diverse group of people, you are going to miss stories or important perspectives on the stories you cover. A diverse newsroom ensures that we will have a better chance of really putting our finger on the pulse of America. And that’s exactly what we have at Al Jazeera America and on the “Consider This” team.
I know it’s still really early on, but what has been your favorite part of working at Al Jazeera America?
I think with everything in life, the most important aspect is the people I work with. I’m very excited about the staff we’ve put together at “Consider This.” I’m also excited about Al Jazeera America and its philosophy of bringing serious and in-depth news coverage to our viewers. I think that’s something that there isn’t enough of right now. We won’t be distracted by the latest salacious story that most American media outlets will focus on. We’re not going to be opinion-driven, and we won’t cover the latest sensational trial to the exclusion of what’s really important. The Jodi Arias trial is a perfect example: it had very little meaning to people across the country but it received enormous coverage. Al Jazeera America will be different because we will bring you information and stories that matter to you.
Did you watch Al Jazeera English before joining Al Jazeera America? What other news sources do you follow?
Yes, I watch Al Jazeera English and I am very impressed with how professional, serious and thoughtful their coverage is. And I’ve seen how successful it’s been: my sister lives in London and she abandoned the BBC for Al Jazeera English years ago because of the latter’s superior news coverage.
My sources of news have varied a lot over the years. I once subscribed to four newspapers and a couple of magazines. Now I’m down to one paper. But I think I actually read more news now than I ever did because of the Internet. I’ve got the New York Times, USA Today and Miami Herald apps on my phone and iPad. I’ll read the Wall Street Journal and I will visit internet news aggregators, including The Drudge Report and the Huffington Post, several times every day, in addition to Associated Press and Reuters newswires on my computer at work. And I use my DVR to record a morning show daily and one of the cable opinion shows. It feels like I’m surrounded by news at all times!