Voice of America and the Russian Bear

BBG Watch Satire

A bear broke into a shopping mall in Russia this week, apparently looking for food. Perhaps the smells coming the food court were too good to resist?

Posted by Voice of America – VOA on Sunday, October 18, 2015

VOA Facebook Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 2 41 PM EDTIf you don’t see VOA Russian bear video, try watching it HERE.

On Sunday morning, October 18, 2015, U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) has posted on Facebook a four-days-old video of a bear in a shopping mall in Russia. For more than two hours as of now, 12:13 PM EDT, it is the leading post on the VOA English News Facebook page. (Update: it has since moved to number two position in the lineup on the VOA News Facebook page.)

Perhaps in an attempt to be funny, a VOA editor added this short introduction to the poorly-produced video with blurred blood red captions (compare VOA video with RT’s video posted below):

VOA NEWS: “A bear broke into a shopping mall in Russia this week, apparently looking for food. Perhaps the smells coming the food court were too good to resist?”

For years, VOA has had problems covering significant breaking news due to poor management and waste of tax dollars on the bureaucracy of its federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). VOA’s annual budget is about $200 million. BBG’s entire annual budget is about $740 million. 34 percent of the BBG’s budget goes to its program support and bureaucracy entity, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).

VOA is often late posting news reports on its websites and social media sites. They get very few “Likes” and comments even when VOA does cover hard news.
 

Clinton, Sanders, Putin, Snowden News

 
Some VOA English News and VOA foreign language services reporters try to and sometimes succeed despite all odds. Voice of America can play an important role for foreign audiences whose access to uncensored news and information is denied.

But recent “Live” VOA tweets from its reporters covering the debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Las Vegas, NV got hardly any re-tweets or favorites. Russia’s RT often gets hundreds or even thousands of Facebook “Likes” and comments from readers. A BBC North American correspondent tweeting about the same debate got dozens of retweets and favorites.

 
BBC Anthony Zurcher Twitter Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 7 58 AM EDT
 
Very few of VOA English News reporters’ tweets during the Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas got any retweets or favorites, and if they did, the numbers were miniscule.
 
VOA Twitter Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 9 41 AM EDT
 

Read: “Voice of America irrelevant on social media during Democratic presidential debate,” BBG Watch, October 16, 2015.

A VOA English News Facebook post on the U.S. debate appeared many hours after the debate had ended. VOA Russian Service was also late and superficial in its debate coverage.

VOA News Facebook video on the debate, not posted until the next morning, did not cover statements on foreign policy issues made by the candidates, including their pointed remarks about Vladimir Putin and Edward Snowden.

But on Sunday morning, October 18, 2015, VOA was quick to post on Facebook a Russian bear video.

It quickly got more views on Facebook than VOA’s Las Vegas debate report video.
 

The Russian Bear News

 
Some say that VOA is no longer in the business of breaking news coverage.

VOA did not say where in Russia the incident occurred. “Where” and “When” were omitted from the intro and the video. Russia is a big country. It has a lot of bears.

As reported by Reuters, BBC, RT, and others a few days ago, the bear was killed on Wednesday in Khabarovsk. Russia’s RT reported already on October 14, and showed the video, that “police in the Russian city of Khabarovsk near the Chinese border were forced to shoot a bear when it made its way into a kindergarten after being chased away from a shopping mall.”

In its video captions, the Voice of America simply repeats the official Russian version of the events and accepts as fact that the bear had to be killed. RT presented the same version.

The BBC report of October 15 was quite different.

BBC News: “Police then shot it dead in the playground of a school before a veterinary worker arrived.
 
Government investigators said (in Russian) that they have now opened an inquiry, after ‘numerous requests’ to do so, into why the animal was killed.”

Posting a four-days-old video on Facebook, without mentioning when the incident happened, where and why, VOA was not even pretending to operate as a news organization. It was a cheap ploy to beef up its Facebook stats which it cannot get for many of real VOA news reports because after the management destroyed VOA’s news reporting capabilities international audiences with a few exceptions do not turn online to VOA for significant breaking news.

As of 1:17 PM EDT Sunday, the RT video on Facebook is showing 82,925 Views, 89 Likes, 236 Shares and a few dozen comments. Some questioned why the bear was killed since the kindergarden was not likely to have been open at night. VOA did not bother to ask such questions. BBC News did. Bravo BBC. Shame on VOA for not even asking an obvious question and trying to make a joke out of the whole incident with its food-court comment.

RT even managed to find a Russian animal rights activist who justified killing the bear. “Animal activist Natalya Kovalenko told local media that the police did what they had to do: ‘The choice here was obvious: they had to act fast to avoid human casualties’,” RT reported.
 

RT News – October 14 and 15

 

A Russian bear made its way into a kindergarten after a breaking and entering in a shopping mall. Police had to shoot the animal.

Posted by RT Play on Thursday, October 15, 2015

 

If you don’t see RT Russian bear video, try watching it HERE.
 

BBC News – October 15

 
BBC had a report, “Russia shopping mall bear shot dead by police,” with a video THREE days ago (October 15, 2015).

If you don’t see BBC Russian bear video, try watching it HERE.
 

Partial Google Search Screenshot

 
As this partial Google search screenshot shows, other news organizations covered the story a few days ago, shortly after the incident happened. Perhaps the Voice of America was trying to add context and analysis with its four-days-old video (just joking).

 
Google Search Russian Bear Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 12 55 PM ET
 

CNN News – October 16

 
CNN had the Russian bear video TWO days ago (October 16, 2015).
 

Back to VOA

 
Some say that Voice of America should be helping to expose and counter President Putin’s propaganda.

How does posting a four-days-old video about a bear in Russia advance VOA’s image as a news organization or helps foreign audiences exposed to propaganda and disinformation develop a better understanding of the world?

We were surprised that the VOA video did not show President Putin killing the bear (just joking). “Topless Vladimir Putin chased bear in forest & strangled it to death with bare hands then piloted bomber over Ukraine-What did you do today?” See: Yahoo ANSWERS.

What did the Voice of America do today?

If VOA is posting videos of Russian bears, why didin’t it post earlier a few videos of American bears at play.

We think American bears are more handsome, friendlier and stronger than Russian bears (just joking). Reporting on American bears may at least meet one of VOA Charter’s requirements. So does reporting news, but the Russian bear was no news four days later.

If Voice of America wants to improve its audience engagement through social media, posting poorly-produced four-days-old videos of a Russian bear that other news organizations had on their websites and social media pages days earlier is not going to do it. Greatly improving timeliness and quality of news coverage and analysis and focusing on significant U.S. and international news events might help, if it’s not already too late.

We thought we’d share the VOA Russian bear video with you. It’s your taxpayers’ dollars at work.
 

U.S. Taxpayers’ Money for Showing AMERICAN Bears

 
Here is what the Voice of America could have posted in June 2015, but apparently did not (we could not find) —

an AMERICAN bear at play.

Not threatening any kindergarden kids, reflecting what is the best in American wild life. Nothing like those blood-thirty Russian bears.

What a splendid propaganda message missed (just joking).

Or VOA could simply use all of its limited resources on covering real news and demand more funding, better support and, above all, better management from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Bruiser, a grizzly bear, was caught on camera taking a dip in an above-ground pool at its home in Melrose, Florida, USA. The Bruiser Bear video is now showing 4,743,634 YouTube views.

 

 

If you don’t see Bruiser AMERICAN Bear video, try watching it HERE.

The least we and U.S. taxpayers can ask from the Voice of America is equal time for AMERICAN bears!
 
 
Feature Image: Grizzly bear in Yellowstone. Photo by Jake Davis.
 
 
 

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