Are Voice of America news reports VOA Charter compliant and balanced?

BBG Watch Just Asking

After Sohrab Ahmari, an editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal Europe published a commentary on how U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), in violation of its VOA Charter generates some news and information which lack balance and mislead foreign audiences, we looked at a few Voice of America English news reports, seeking accurate, objective and comprehensive coverage.

The Wall Street Journal writer was analyzing the output of VOA’s Persian Service, also known as the Persian News Network (PNN), and was highly critical.

For our analysis today, we picked one VOA English video news report from August 10, 2015:

Protesters Mark Anniversary of Michael Brown’s Death.”

 

Here are some questions about this VOA report:

 
1. How “accurate, objective and comprehensive” is this VOA English news report?

2. Does the VOA report present all sides of the news story accurately, fairly and with balance?

3. Does this report “represent America, not any single segment of American society,” and therefore presents “a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions”? (VOA Charter requirement).

4. Does the VOA English news report present “all relevant facts and opinions on important news event and issue”? (VOA Journalistic Code requirement)

5. Does this VOA English news report “present a charge or accusation made by an individual or a group against another” and also includes “a response and/or balancing information”? (VOA Journalistic Code requirement)

6. Does this VOA English report reject “incitements to violence, sensationalism, personal value judgments, or misleading emphases”? (VOA Journalistic Code requirement)

7. Does this VOA English report “reflect America’s … political, geographical, cultural, ethnic, religious, and social diversity”? (VOA Journalistic Code requirement)

JUST ASKING.

 


 
The following text may be only a partial and uncorrected transcript of the Voice of America news report. Please compare it with the actual VOA video.

Voice of America

TITLE: Ferguson Anniversary
HEAD: Demonstrators Mark Anniversary of Michael Brown Death in Ferguson, MO.
DATE: 08/09/2015
PUBLISHED AT:
(Press Alt+D here before publishing to generate a timestamp)
BYLINE: Arash Arabasadi
DATELINE: Washington
CAMERA: Arash Arabasadi
VIDEO EDITOR: Arash Arabasadi
VIDEO FROM: VOA, FEEDS
NUMBER: 11688606
TYPE: VPKGN
UPDATE:
MANDATORY COURTESY (See Script) ))

((INTRODUCTION))
[[Sunday marks the first anniversary of the death of Mike Brown, a black teenager shot during a confrontation by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. Days of civil unrest followed the shooting and the later decision by a grand jury not to indict the police officer. One year later, demonstrators took to the streets in remembrance of what many point to as an example of white police officers killing unarmed black men with impunity. Arash Arabasadi reports from Washington.]]

((NARRATOR))
Ferguson, Missouri. Sunday. An extended moment of silence in remembrance of slain teenager, Mike Brown, who was gunned down by a local, police officer one year ago.

On “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” New Jersey Senator Cory Brown spoke on racial inequality in the American, judicial system.

((MANDATORY CG: THIS WEEK))
((EXCERPTED MATERIAL CANNOT BE USED AFTER (3) DAYS AND THE THIS WEEK PROGRAM CANNOT BE ARCHIVED FOR FUTURE USE.))
((CORY BROWN, SENATOR, NEW JERSEY))
“When you see a criminal justice system that is not what the Supreme Court has etched in its wall “Equal Justice Under [the] Law” please understand that there is going to be an understandable reaction to that in our country.”

((NARRATOR))
It started when Officer Darren Wilson responded to a report of theft from a local store. A struggle ensued when he encountered Brown, and Wilson fired twelve rounds, ultimately killing the teenager.

((VOX POP, GROUP: “HANDS UP! DON’T SHOOT!”))

The killing fueled the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, and preceded the high-profile killings of Walter Scott in South Carolina and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Those, cases resulted in the indictments of several police officers.

But indictment does not mean conviction, and that is cause for concern among those who say blacks are disproportionately targeted by police in the ever-growing prison population of the United States.

((MANDATORY CG: THIS WEEK))

((CORY BROWN [corrected in video], SENATOR, NEW JERSEY))
“We are four percent of the globe’s population four to five percent. We have one out of every four, imprisoned people here, in this country. And, so, yeah, there is a reason to be upset, and there is a reason to act out.”

((NARRATOR))
Demonstrators began marching in Ferguson last week and again following Sunday’s moment of silence. ((SIGNED))

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