Amanda Bennett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author, chosen as the new director of the Voice of America (VOA), said she is “happy and excited to be part of such a vital news organization.”
VOA also quoted her as saying: “We are the only source of reliable, objective, credible news and information for a huge chunk of the world. What’s more, our mission of covering the fascinating complexity of our country and its people is a beat like no other.”
BBG Watch had an exclusive report on February 17, 2015 that Amanda Bennett was being considered for the job of VOA director.
SEE: Amanda Bennett considered for Voice of America director EXCLUSIVE, BBG Watch, February 17, 2016
BBG Watch reported in February that Amanda Bennett “could play a key role in transforming VOA and helping Lansing [Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO and Director John Lansing] to reform the agency,” which some members of Congress have criticized as “broken.”
SEE: This Broken Agency is Losing the Info War to ISIS & Putin, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chairman Ed Royce, February 23, 2016
Hillary Clinton described the BBG in 2013, when she was still a BBG board member and Secretary of State, as “practically defunct.”
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have proposed major structural reforms at the BBG, the agency in charge of U.S. international media outreach.
The BBG, where VOA is a large federal entity, has for years scored at the very bottom among federal government agencies in employee morale and job satisfaction surveys conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
A recent post on the BBG Watch site, “Please put a stop to this nonsense: A Plea to Future Voice of America Director,” from a VOA reporter who wanted to be anonymous, said: “VOA did not send a cameraman to Cuba. That is all you need to know to realize that the amateurs are in charge. They just threw a group of inexperienced ‘reporters’ with iPhones on a plane and called it coverage.”
Both VOA and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a nonfederal media outlet which is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, have had a number of embarrassing news reporting incidents in recent years, including posting Kremlin propaganda on several occasions without proper balance or challenge as reported by BBG Watch.
RFE/RL has been without a permanent executive for over two years. BBG Watch reported that a leading American journalist had withdrawn his interest in becoming RFE/RL president after he became frustrated with the prolonged bureaucratic selection approval process.
In an article published in February on the Public Diplomacy Council (PDC) website, American media scholar and writer Martha Bayles asked BBG board members to look to qualified outside candidates for the job of permanent president of RFE/RL.
VOA reported that Amanda Bennett will be sworn in on Monday April 18 at VOA headquarters, according to a statement from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. As of 9PM ET Wednesday, April 14, the BBG statement has not been posted on the official BBG website. The last press release, dated April 13, states that the Broadcasting Board of Governors will meet on April 20, 2016 at 10:30 at its Washington, D.C. headquarters for its regular open board meeting.
VOA has been without a permanent director since former VOA director David Ensor resigned a year ago.
VOA report quoted BBG CEO John Lansing as saying: “I am confident that Amanda is the best person to lead VOA through the vast media challenges of the 21st century.”
Amanda Bennett is the former editor of two newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Lexington Herald-Leader and author of six nonfiction books. She had a 23-year career with The Wall Street Journal and was the paper’s correspondent in China.
During her media career, she was in charge of several award-winning investigative reporting projects.
In 1987, she and her Wall Street Journal colleagues won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for their investigation of public funding for AIDS research. She was also a managing editor at The Oregonian. In 2001, the paper won Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for investigative reporting on the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
In September 2001, she became editor of The Lexington Herald-Leader. In 2003, she became the first female editor in the 174-year history of The Philadelphia Inquirer. During her tenure there, The Philadelphia Inquirer became the only major American newspaper to run the controversial Danish cartoon representing the prophet Mohammed. Subsequently, she held meetings with with members of the Philadelphia Muslim community to foster better ties with the paper.
From November 2006 to June 2013, she was executive editor at Bloomberg News, where she created and ran a global team of investigative reporters and editors. A Wikipedia article for Amanda Bennett states: “Under her direction, a team of Bloomberg journalists for the first time tallied the personal assets of family members of a senior Chinese leader – vice president Xi Jinping. The story, which was widely circulated both inside and outside China, won the Polk Award, and also resulted in Bloomberg’s business in China being significantly disrupted.”
She resigned from Bloomberg News in November 2013 and is now a freelance journalist and public speaker. She is married to Donald E. Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post.
Amanda Bennett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author, has been chosen as the new director of the Voice of America, the U.S. government’s largest international broadcaster.
Bennett will be sworn in on Monday April 18 at VOA headquarters, according to a statement from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees VOA and four other U.S. broadcasting entities.
Bennett served as the executive editor of Bloomberg News, where she created and ran a global team of investigative reporters and editors until 2013. Previously, she was editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. She also spent two decades as an editor and reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she and her colleagues shared a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on how public health officials misrepresented the AIDS epidemic in order to secure more public funding and financial support.
“I am confident that Amanda is the best person to lead VOA through the vast media challenges of the 21st century,” said BBG CEO John Lansing
Bennett is the author of six books including “In Memoriam” (1998), co-authored with Terence B. Foley; “The Man Who Stayed Behind” (1993), co-authored with Sidney Rittenberg; “Death of the Organization Man” (1991) and “The Quiet Room” (1996), co-authored with Lori Schiller.
“The Cost of Hope,” Bennett’s memoir of the battle she and Foley, her late husband, fought against his kidney cancer, was published in 2012.
More recently, she has been a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. With her husband, Donald Graham, she co-founded The Dream.US, which provides college scholarships to the children of undocumented immigrants.
“I am happy and excited to be part of such a vital news organization,” said Bennett. “We are the only source of reliable, objective, credible news and information for a huge chunk of the world. What’s more, our mission of covering the fascinating complexity of our country and its people is a beat like no other.”