BBG Watch Commentary
The incident in New York City on Tuesday afternoon provided
another example of how the Voice of America (VOA) frequently lags
behind other media in reporting breaking news.
VOA falls under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG),
a U.S. agency with the lowest employee morale in the
federal government. VOA is still managed by Obama administration
Britain’s BBC was up with full story on the New York City shooting, at least 8 paragraphs,
with Twitter posts from NYPD before 4:18 PM.
VOA had nothing on front page at that time.
Shortly after breaking news bulletins about the incident started
to flood the media, VOA’s main English front page was observed
to have no mention whatsoever of the event.
Later, VOA did post a Twitter item linked to a brief five
paragraph AP story. It was not expanded with any additional
material, such as Twitter posts by the NYPD or the New York City
mayor’s office, which appeared in BBC reports.
As of 4:35 PM VOA still had no story on its main English global
web page, or on the U.S. section of that page.
In contrast, the BBC had extensive updates of the story, complete
with Twitter posts from NYPD, and photographs, with contact links
and requests for contributions from readers via Twitter and SMS.
VOA finally posted a small item on the incident on its front page,
observed at about 4:38 PM, linking to an expanded AP story with
a 4:30 PM time mark.
To top everything off, BBC was up with
the latest death figure, VOA still had a 30 minute old AP
story up, without the fatality figure.
And now at 5:34 PM, VOA still has the story buried under
a Syria story. BBC now has the story No. 1 on Home,
World, and U.S. pages, and BBC has a “Live” page up with
numerous photos and Twitter feeds.
Voice of America frontline reporters wonder where the multi-million dollar
VOA New York Bureau was on this? Why did
VOA stick with AP, then Reuters stories for more
than 90 minutes after the first breaking news item?
We looked at the VOA video, which reporter from the
NY Bureau, posted on Twitter and You Tube. The post has minimal
shares and likes. In comparison with other outlets — it’s
The story has been up on YouTube for quite a while
with videos from news outlets other than VOA:
Time (42 minutes ago), 1689 views;
ABC (14 minutes ago), 225 views;
FOX (26 minutes ago), 980 views;
CNN (1 hour ago), 1449 views;
and even NJ.com (19 minutes ago), 109 views;
This is one more example that the agency is incapable of keeping on top of breaking news.
Its alleged “digital first” priority is a bust. It can’t keep pace with commercial news outlets.
It can’t keep pace with the BBC.
It has to rely on AP and even then it’s behind the curve.
In short, the agency is non-competitive.
It is not a go-to source for news and information in a timely manner. Anywhere.
It rarely breaks into programming on-air or digital with a bulletin or live reporting.
As it often does, VOA relied on one of its reporters, in this case
Steve Herman, the White House correspondent, to report on Twitter.
But without anything of the VOA website, these tweets, unless picked up
by U.S. media, show minimal audience engagement, most of it,
in any case, from the United States which is not supposed to be
Some of the VOA tweets were giving erroneous information.
Though these tweets mentioned a death figure of “several fatalities”, New York
NBC station WNBC had already reported about 15 minutes before
a figure of 6 killed.
One attachment as of 4:58 PM EDT, shows
NYC story buried under “More Headlines” on the
VOA front page.
It is interesting that the VOA Twitter item contains a link to
an AP story, very short, just a straight pick up of AP, but
that story itself had not appeared ANYWHERE on VOA front
page, or VOA U.S. section as of 4:31 PM.
What is most obvious when you look at the social media posts,
even the ones VOA correspondent Steve Herman still puts up there, is the weak reactions, whether
shares or likes, etc. He can only get a more substantial number of likes and comments
for some of his strongly anti-Trump tweets, and only when they are picked up
by The Washington Post or another such outlet. Even then
the reactions are about 95% or more from the United States,
which is not where VOA’s audience is supposed to be; and close to 99% from
some of the most vocal opponents of Trump in the U.S., which shows
how one-sided and domestic audience-oriented VOA content has become.
On this story, it’s pretty clear what happened. Here you had the worst
terrorist incident in NYC since 9/11, if I am correct from reading various
stories and posts. They had to rush to get their NY guy out there on the
street to do a video.
But worse is how they mishandled online. To bury the story under “More
Headlines,” when BBC everyone else realized immediately that was a WORLD
story, is pathetic.