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The Young Turks Hires Ex-Al Jazeera America Producer Jonathan Larsen, Two Others After Raising $1.5M in Crowdfunding

Variety logo Variety 3/24/2017 Todd Spangler
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Digital news and pop-culture network the Young Turks has named Jonathan Larsen, formerly with Al Jazeera America, as its first managing editor and has tapped Dylan Ratigan and David Sirota as news commentators.

The trio are joining TYT Network under its crowdfunding campaign launched in December to hire reporters and commentators, which has raised $1.5 million of its $2 million goal from nearly 45,000 contributors to date.

Larsen (pictured, above) most recently was senior executive producer for politics at Al Jazeera America. In the newly created role of managing editor, he will oversee editorial and programming direction for TYT’s investigative journalists and commentators. Prior to Al Jazeera, Larsen was a producer with MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “ABC World News Now” and CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” He also was co-creator and executive producer of both “Up with Chris Hayes” and “Morning Sedition with Marc Maron” on Air America Radio.

Sirota joins TYT as a part-time news commentator and will remain on staff as senior editor for investigations at International Business Times. In addition, he has written for the New York Times Magazine, Politico, Harper’s, Wired, Vice, the Nation and Salon. Ratigan, author of “Greedy Bastards,” formerly hosted a show on MSNBC and also worked at CNBC and Bloomberg.

Other reporters and commentators recently hired by TYT as part of the crowdfunding effort include Ryan Grim, Michael Tracey, Nomiki Konst and Shaun King. The company said it will hire one more group of journalists when the campaign — which it kicked off after President Obama denied the final Dakota Access Pipeline permit — hits its $2 million goal.

TYT Network, which is one of YouTube’s top partner channels, says it generates over 200 million video views per month across platforms. In 2015, the Young Turks was named to Variety’s Famechangers ranking of top digital influencers. The L.A.-based company was founded by Cenk Uygur, a radio host and lawyer who started the Young Turks as a talk show on Sirius in 2002 before he began posting TYT videos to YouTube in 2005.

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