A panel of media and foreign affairs experts gathered February 3 in Washington to assess America’s largest publicly-financed media organization at a landmark historic week in Voice history.
—VOA Acting Director Yolanda Lopez
—Sanford (Sandy) Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University and Former VOA Director
—Roya Mahboob of Afghanistan’s Olympic team
—Ann Cooper, a foreign affairs scholar on East European affairs
—Nicholas Cull, an internationally-known scholar of public diplomacy and international broadcasting at the University of Southern California
Dr. Cull opened the discussion by saying: “We should understand what a treasure a credible news source is, one such as VOA.” He added: “VOA’s gift to followers of independence is a reason for its success.”
A summary of those who access VOA
The latest research commissioned last November by its management estimated VOA users globally at 313,000,000 a week. Although they accessed it online, via TV or radio, or heard it by tuning in to VOA frequencies directly on the airwaves, each counted only once. That list reflected what, to many, would have been unthinkable when I retired 24 years ago: more of VOA’s users today do so on the Internet, the second-largest number directly or on their local television networks, and the third-largest on radio via those same outlets or by tuning in to VOA on-air frequencies accessed by people around the planet.
Afghanistan Olympic team member Roya Mahboob agreed with Dr. Cull: “VOA is clearly a defender of reliable and credible news. It was over many years, a dependable source of accurate information to users around the globe.”
Former VOA Director Sanford Ungar noted that the Voice’s “ironclad commitment to the truth” and its resolve to do so stems from its Charter, signed into Public Law 94-350 by President Ford in 1976 (the 200th anniversary of United States independence).
East European specialist Ann Cooper added that during the Cold War, “there was not a single word on the Chernobyl nuclear explosion on Soviet media, yet VOA reported details of the disaster” based on multiple news agency wire service accounts and those of Voice correspondents in Europe moments after the blast.
Now, during the most dangerous crisis in Europe so far this century — that centering on Ukraine — hourly VOA news updates are sought by followers around the globe at VOA.com.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More