Al Jazeera America today announced former Tumblr media director Mark Coatney has been named the channel’s first SVP, digital media. In that role, he’ll oversee the network’s Web site and be the “senior decision maker” for all things digital, according to a spokesperson.
Coatney has his work cut out for him. Al Jazeera America, which replaced Current TV, debuted on Aug. 20 to low ratings in its first week. The channel’s launch had just 22,000 viewers, according to a TV Newser report, which is below the threshold Nielsen says it can report ratings. The channel is carried in 40 million U.S. homes.
Al Jazeera has long attracted controversy for coverage considered critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East, slowing adoption of Al Jazeera English by American cable operators in recent years. The latest offshoot of the Qatar-based news organization is focused on U.S. domestic news.
Before Joining Al Jazeera America, Coatney spent three years at social blogging site Tumblr, where he oversaw more than 700 brands and media outlets on Tumblr including The New York Times, IBM, NPR, Disney, and Conde Nast. Previously, he managed Newsweek’s presence on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.