Russia’s RT beats VOA hands down on Irma coverage, audience engagement

BBG Watch Commentary

As Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Russia’s RT beat U.S. taxpayer-funded ($221 million FY 2017) Voice of America (VOA) hands down in news coverage, posts on Facebook, and audience engagement, as did every other major news organization, including BBC.

RT had multiple live Facebook video posts, while Voice of America has none so far today.

An RT Facebook post on Irma earlier today had 3,800 “Likes,” 1,800 “Comments,” 1,700 “Shares” and 104,000 “Views” in less than an hour.

A VOA English Facebook post on Irma had only 164 “Likes,” 9 (nine) “Shares” and 4 (four) “Comments” also after about an hour online.

RT had multiple Facebook posts on Irma, 17 so far today, many of them live, while VOA had only three (3) so far (11:40 AM EDT).

Also after about one hour online, a Washington Post Facebook post on Irma had 694 “Likes,” 269 “Comments,” 199 “Shares” and 65,600 “Views.” VOA News Facebook post on Irma could not get more than four (4) Facebook “Likes” within an hour. About half of VOA English News web traffic originates in the United States, even though the Congress wants VOA to target only foreign audiences.

The Voice of America is managed by the dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) federal agency ($748 million FY 2017, including VOA). The BBG has been building up its enormous, wasteful and ineffective bureaucracy for many years while cutting programs no funds for news coverage. Both BBG and VOA have dozens of senior managers who at this time of year often go on long international and domestic trips to use up end-of-the-fiscal-year money.

BBC does not have any recent Facebook posts on Irma, but its live post from four hours ago shows so far 2,700 “Likes,” 623 “Comments,” 427 “Shares” and 248,000 “Views.”

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