As reported earlier by BBG Watch, Voice of America (VOA) director Amanda Bennett has posted a comment to an op-ed on the BBG Watch website encouraging greater objectivity and non-partisanship in VOA coverage of U.S. presidential election campaign.
The original article on the BBG Watch website, “Robert E. Sherwood on avoiding election coverage bias at Voice of America,” was written by one of BBG Watch’s founders, Ted Lipien, who is a former VOA acting associate director, writer, and media freedom activist connected with the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), an independent NGO.
Lipien said that while striving to be impartial, fair and objective, the Voice of America should not shy away from controversy and from reporting on controversial statements by U.S. presidential candidates. Lipien and several former VOA correspondents said that mathematical equality is not always necessary in reporting on different candidates, but putting controversial views in a context for foreign audiences to understand helps achieve objectivity.
BBG Watch also reported earlier that Amanda Bennett has ordered a series of bias training sessions in the wake of criticisms of bias in VOA coverage of, and commentary on, the U.S. presidential campaign.
SEE: VOA Director Orders Bias Training In Wake of Criticisms, By BBG Watch Reporters, June 21, 2016
In her comment for BBG Watch, Ms. Bennett welcomed constructive criticism.
Thank you for this. Constructive criticism is always welcomed, as it helps us get better. During this unusual election season VOA, like all American media, is trying hard to cover the candidates and issues appropriately — neither pulling punches, nor exhibiting bias. As part of our effort, we have begun bias training and will be conducting sessions in all divisions over the next two weeks. In addition, all of us will be carefully scrutinizing our coverage. In this highly polarized climate it’s unlikely that any news organization — including VOA — will ever get coverage that everyone agrees is unbiased. But we can all do a much better job in following our Charter’s mandate to be impartial and fair. I welcome any input that helps us do that.
Amanda Bennett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, investigative journalist and editor. She was sworn in as new VOA director on April 18, 2016.
Photo: Amanda Bennett is sworn in by BBG CEO John Lansing as VOA’s new Director. Kelu Chao, who served as acting VOA Director for nearly a year, holds the Bible.