Voice of America (VOA)
Thursday, July 13th 2017
Here is a report on two events Monday in Washington, by PDC member and former broadcaster Alan Heil. The PDC-USC First Monday event can be seen on YouTube.
A SHORTWAVE CHRYSALIS TO A MULTIMEDIA BUTTERFLY: U.S. INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING THEN AND NOW
Last Monday was indeed a memorable day for historians of our nation’s publicly-funded international broadcasters. In the 20th century, these scholars were challenged to understand hot and Cold Wars, and convey what they learned, largely on shortwave radio. Now they must deal in an era of proliferating media vehicles carrying false or distorted information in milliseconds, an unimaginable array of often instantaneous challenges, globally.
On July 10, two forums documented those challenges in bold relief.Read More
Tuesday, March 7th 2017
Since last year there has been an effort at the Voice of America to expand into “investigative reporting”. The best response by VOA’s stakeholders to this effort should be a firm and unequivocal No.
Why? Just look at VOA’s website.
Every day this government agency distributes stories to audiences around the world that are not even written by VOA’s employees. Instead, they’re written by reporters at The Associated Press, or Reuters. And that’s a problem.
The reason is because VOA’s reporters are required by law to follow strict guidelines regulating what kind of stories they should cover and, even more importantly, how to cover them. But outside organizations such as AP don’t have to follow those rules, and when they don’t, that’s a violation of the Charter under which VOA operates.Read More
Wednesday, June 1st 2016
If it wasn’t inevitable, the threat was clearly lurking on the horizon. And now, legislation that would eliminate the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) – the group of political appointees who oversee U.S. international broadcasting – and de-federalize the Voice of America (VOA) has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Blowing up the Board and converting the 74-year-old VOA into a non-governmental entity, the kind of drastic reform which one congressional aide reportedly described as “the nuclear option”, is now on the table.
The proposal, which came in an amendment to the annual defense spending authorization bill, was written by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX). While the chances of it becoming law, at least in its present form, are probably slim, it’s still a serious sign of just how unhappy some are in Congress with the Voice of America and the Board that oversees it and the nation’s other non-military international broadcasting.Read More
Friday, April 15th 2016
Amanda Bennett, appointed director of the Voice of America April 14, will speak at the PDC/USC First Monday Forum next May 2. The author, editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will be sworn in April 18 at the headquarters of the Voice of America, United States' largest international broadcaster.Read More
Friday, October 30th 2015
The Voice of America's Charter lies at the heart of VOA’s mission. Using language that’s as simple as it is ambitious, the Charter was designed to govern everything done by VOA, America’s oldest and largest government broadcaster. Its guidelines, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, are succinct:
“The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts:
“1. VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.
“2. VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.
“3. VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies. (Public Law 94-350)”
Sounds pretty clear. And except for the reference to radio, it’s as relevant today as it was nearly four decades ago. It’s not surprising that the Charter has also provided journalistic guidance for VOA’s sister organizations under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which include Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio & TV Marti, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Sawa and Alhurra TV.
Yet a key element of the Charter has been so frequently ignored over the years that some members of Congress want to drastically reduce VOA’s mission, if not pull the plug entirely on it.
How did VOA get into this mess?Read More