U.S. taxes at work at Voice of America – VOA journalist speaks out about inexperienced leaders and poor morale

BBG Watch Commentary

Voice of America Video

 

 
 

After the BBG Watch commentary was posted, VOA appears to have removed the Logan the Cat video.
 

Voice of America Video

 

 
 

But BBG Watch took a screenshot when the video was still on VOA’s Facebook page.
 
logan-the-cat-voa-facebook-post-screenshot-october-7-2016-1-50-am-et
 

Not all Voice of America (VOA) journalists and other Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) employees — in fact, very few — approve of such use of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars as shown in the VOA videos embedded above. Even for purely “click bait” purposes, a high school media class could produce better videos. VOA and BBG are in a leadership crisis with no end in sight, some of the best VOA journalists told BBG Watch.

An email written by a VOA broadcaster who has done television, radio and social media, as well reporting, writing and editing for various media elements, was forwarded to BBG Watch after Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson wrote that in the latest Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 2016 Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), the Broadcasting Board of Governors, “another regular bottom-feeder that oversees the Voice of America and other government broadcasters … is going backward.”

The negative trend continues under current BBG CEO and Director John Lansing and VOA Director Amanda Bennett. It did not take BBG employee long to assess the new leaders put in place by the disengaged BBG Board serving on expired terms.

The VOA journalist, who does not want to be identified by name or the specific office, confirmed that the agency’s federal employees quickly concluded that when it comes to experience, leadership and management, it is still business as usual. In the 2016 OPM employee satisfaction survey, they rated the new executives and their team even lower than the previous management team in the categories of leadership and employee engagement. The previous management team also had received record low scores among all federal agencies of similar size. The new team includes many of the same longtime managers. One former manager who had retired was brought back to advise the new VOA director.

The VOA journalist wrote in an email of growing disenchantment, pessimism and a sense of desperation among many Voice of America and Broadcasting Board of Governors rank-and-file employees, editors, and mid-level managers.
 

Screenshot from Voice of America video

Screenshot from Voice of America video


 

 
Because cronyism, corruption and waste is the name of the game there. The Agency keeps adding GS-14 and GS-15 positions to bring on board more incompetent people to perpetuate its devastating culture. The entrenched, permanent 14 and 15 fixtures assign and reassign themselves, or being reassigned by their mentors from one position of authority to another to avoid scrutiny and to get big bonuses. They kill their official time in useless meetings, talking nonsense to minimize contacts with their staff because they are incapable of providing guidance and showing leadership.
 
They do not genuinely understand the broadcast operation and its platforms: TV, Radio, Internet – web and social media. They do not understand the country they represent and they are poorly informed or not informed at all about the countries the agency broadcast to. And, they do not care, regardless of their continuous, spectacular failures. One of them heads the core and the backbone of every news organization – and the person is barely present there.
 
If managers and supervisors did not participate in FEVS, or were asked not to participate, the results would have been at least 20% lower. As long as BBG CEO John Lansing and VOA Director Bennett continue to take advice from the entrenched, untouchable, arrogant bureaucrats, they will fail.
 
In general, I have observed disappointment and disengagement across my area of the organization.

 

 
 
 

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2 Comments

  1. Logan the Cat

    Dear Voice of America,

    If you are going to write about me, please double check your spelling.

    Logan the Cat

  2. Observer

    The article written by the VOA journalist, which I reproduced below, applies perfectly to RFE/RL as well. With one observation: while VOA employees at least enjoy the status of federal employees, those at RFE/RL are left at the mercy of an all-powerful management.

    “Because cronyism, corruption and waste is the name of the game there. The Agency keeps adding GS-14 and GS-15 positions to bring on board more incompetent people to perpetuate its devastating culture. The entrenched, permanent 14 and 15 fixtures assign and reassign themselves, or being reassigned by their mentors from one position of authority to another to avoid scrutiny and to get big bonuses. They kill their official time in useless meetings, talking nonsense to minimize contacts with their staff because they are incapable of providing guidance and showing leadership.

    They do not genuinely understand the broadcast operation and its platforms: TV, Radio, Internet – web and social media. They do not understand the country they represent and they are poorly informed or not informed at all about the countries the agency broadcast to. And, they do not care, regardless of their continuous, spectacular failures. One of them heads the core and the backbone of every news organization – and the person is barely present there.

    If managers and supervisors did not participate in FEVS, or were asked not to participate, the results would have been at least 20% lower. As long as BBG CEO John Lansing and VOA Director Bennett continue to take advice from the entrenched, untouchable, arrogant bureaucrats, they will fail.

    In general, I have observed disappointment and disengagement across my area of the organization.”

Comments are closed.