Voice of America English News not updating disputed information on terror attack in Russia

As of 8PM ET, Dec. 29, Voice of America (VOA) is still reports information which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, and RT (Russia Today) had described as disputed hours ago.

UPDATE 10PM ET

Top news headline on the VOA English homepage as of 9:50PM ET still links to a report that has not been updated for hours, includes disputed information, and does not mention statements from U.S. Ambassador McFaul and the State Department.

Top news headline on the VOA English homepage as of 9:50PM ET still links to a report that has not been updated for hours, includes disputed information, and does not mention statements from U.S. Ambassador McFaul and the State Department.

It turns out that VOA English News posted a report at about 5PM ET somewhere on its website, in which it mentions U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s statement of condolences in connection with the terror attack in Volgograd. This report, however, does not have a prominent link on the VOA English homepage and does not appear in the VOA Europe News section. The report itself was posted late — many hours after Ambassador McFaul’s statement appeared online and was already reported by RT (Voice of Russia).

VOA English News is still not reporting anywhere on the State Department statement condemning the attack. A report on the bombing which is featured on the homepage as the lead news does not have any references to Ambassador McFaul’s statement and includes outdated information that ought to have been corrected hours ago.

Suicide Bomber Kills 16 in Russian Train Station, VOA News, posted late afternoon ET, Dec. 29.

In other words, this report with a reference to Ambassador McFaul’s statement cannot be found unless someone does a search of the entire website. This late-posted report does not mention the State Department statement to the press by spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

VOA English News website is still not reporting on  this State Department statement as of 9:30 PM ET. The statement was posted online in the afternoon in Washington, DC.

VOA English News website is still not reporting on this State Department statement as of 9:30 PM ET. The statement was posted online in the afternoon in Washington, DC.

The report that can be seen on the homepage as of 9:20PM ET and also in the VOA Europe News section does not have any references to Ambassador McFaul’s statement or to the State Department statement. Anybody who goes to the VOA English site will see this outdated report and not the other one, which is also outdated.

Interestingly, in the VOA English website’s Europe News section, the Russia terror bombing report appears as number 5 news item after such reports as “F1 Racer Schumacher ‘Critical’ After Skiing Accident” and “French ‘Millionaire’s Tax’ Gets Constitutional Go-Ahead.”

VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch should know that their English website is certainly unique in this kind of news selection and lineup even when compared to such major European international media outlets as BBC and Deutsche Welle.

This report also includes disputed information about a female bomber, which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, RT (Russia Today) and other international media have already corrected hours ago.

LEAD VOA NEWS REPORT ON ENGLISH HOMEPAGE AS OF 9:20PM ET

The report includes disputed information about a female suicide bomber and has no references to statements by Ambassador McFaul and the State Department.

Suicide Bomber Kills 16 at Russian Train Station — 9:20PM VOA Homepage Link

Jessica Golloher

December 29, 2013

MOSCOW — Russian officials say they believe a female suicide bomber caused an explosion that killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens Sunday at the entrance to a train station in Volgograd. The latest attack in southern Russia occurred about 650 kilometers northeast of Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics in February.

Russia’s federal investigative committee says the bomber walked into a busy train station in Volgograd and detonated explosives just in front of metal detectors.

Vladimir Markin, who heads Russia’s Investigative Committee, said that this explosion was the equivalent of 10 kilograms of TNT.

He said there would have been many more victims if the so-called guarding system at the train station hadn’t worked. He pointed out that security did not allow the suicide bomber to get through the metal detector into the waiting hall where at the time there were lots of people because three trains were late.

This is the second recent deadly bombing in the city of around one million. In October, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a bus stop, killing six others.

Volgograd is around 650 kilometers northeast of Sochi, the site for the upcoming Winter Olympics, a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In an online video, Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov has called on rebels to use maximum force to prevent Mr. Putin from staging the Olympics. Putin has maintained that the games will be safe and that the Kremlin has taken every necessary precaution.

Sochi is situated near the volatile North Caucasus region, on Russia’s southern flank. The region has seen violence for more than a decade as rebels try to establish an Islamist state. There are near-daily attacks on police and officials in the region. Critics blame the violence there on the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent.

Sunday’s train-station attack is believed to be the deadliest in three years. In 2011, 37 people were killed when Islamist insurgents bombed a Moscow airport.

On Friday, three people died in another attack some 270 kilometers east of Volgograd, in the city of Pyatigorsk.

This VOA report is on the VOA website, but as of 9:20PM ET there are no links to it on the homepage or in the Europe News section. It was posted inside the website late afternoon ET. This report, which also has not been updated in the last five hours (as of 10PM ET) also includes disputed information about a female bomber that other media such as BBC, RT, DW, and Al Jazeera have corrected many hours ago.

Suicide Bomber Kills 16 in Russian Train Station

December 29, 2013

Authorities in southern Russia say a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a train station in the southern city of Volgograd, killing at least 16 people and wounding dozens.

An investigative committee spokesman says the woman set off the bomb in front of the metal detectors at the station entrance early Sunday morning.

Television footage shows a big orange fireball just inside the station as smoke pours out of the windows.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. But authorities found what they say was the bomber’s severed head. They identify her as coming from Dagestan, a republic in the nearby volatile North Caucasus.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul extendedhis condolances to the dead and injured in what he called a terrorist attack.

This attack comes weeks before the Winter Olympics open in Sochi, about 650 kilometers south of Volgograd. Islamist militants have threatened to disrupt the Games.

An attack in Volgograd by a female suicide bomber on October 21 killed five people and wounded 30. Investigators also identified her as coming from Dagestan.

Dagestan is the epicenter of an ongoing Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus.

In early July, the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, Doku Umarov, declared an end to a moratorium on attacks on Russian civilian targets that he had announced the previous year.

UPDATE 8:00PM ET – We thought that a reference to a female bomber was removed by the Voice of America from a report on the VOA English website, but we found later that it is still there as of 8:00 PM ET with VOA English News failing to remove, correct and update disputed information or to include U.S. and international reactions to the terror attack in Russia.

As of 8PM ET, Dec. 29, Voice of America (VOA) is  still reports information which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, and RT (Russia Today) had described as disputed hours ago.

As of 8PM ET, Dec. 29, Voice of America (VOA) is still reports information which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, and RT (Russia Today) had described as disputed hours ago.

“MOSCOW — Russian officials say they believe a female suicide bomber caused an explosion that killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens Sunday at the entrance to a train station in Volgograd.” — VOA English News as of 8:15PM ET. Suicide Bomber Kills 16 at Russian Train Station

All other international media outlets have been questioning this report for hours after Russian officials themselves had stated that they are no longer sure how many people were involved and who caused the explosion.

This is what DW (Deutsche Welle) is reporting:

“A bombing at a train station in the Russian city of Volgograd has killed more than a dozen people and injured many more. Questions remain over the gender of the attacker after initial reports said the bomber was female.” — DW (Deutsche Welle) Blast at Russia’s Volgograd train station leaves more than a dozen dead

This is what BBC English News is reporting:

“Initial official claims that the bomber was a lone woman have been replaced by uncertainty about who carried it out.” — BBC ‘Suicide bomber’ hits Russia’s Volgograd train station

This is what RT (Russia Today) is reporting:

“Suicide bomber’s identity disputed

The Committee originally said a female suicide bomber detonated the bomb when she saw a police officer while approaching the metal detector.

But since then the suicide bomber’s identity has been disputed. The female was initially identified as Oksana Aslanova, a close friend of Naida Asiyalova – also known as ‘Amaturahman’ – who was behind the October Volgograd attack. Aslanova is said to have been married twice to two militants, both eliminated earlier.

A few hours later, more evidence emerged suggesting that a man could have also been involved in the attack. The version, which was also picked up by investigators, came after a male finger with a pin from a grenade was found at the scene.

Given the new information, the possibility that the attack could have been carried out by both a man and a woman is not ruled out, Markin said.” — RT (Russia Today) Suicide bomber kills 16 in Russia’s Volgograd (VIDEO)

This is what Al Jazeera English is reporting:

“Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the nation’s top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said the suicide bomber detonated her, the bomber was initially believed to be a women but officials later said this was not certain, explosives in front of a metal detector.” — Al Jazeera Deadly blast hits Russian train station

VOA English report on the terror bombing in Russia shows 136 Facebook Likes as of 8:15PM ET.
BBC English report on the terror bombing in Russia shows 3,795 Facebook Likes as of 8:15PM ET.
RT English report on the terror bombing in Russia shows over 2,600 Facebook Likes as of 8:15PM ET.
Al Jazeera report on the terror bombing in Russia shows 1,303 Facebook Likes as of 8:15PM ET.
DW does not show social media stats on its English website.

Ambassador McFaul'posted his statement more than 10 hours ago on his Facebook page and on his Twitter account. RT (Russia Today) reported on it soon afterwards. The VOA English website still does not mention it. Among VOA's  45 language services, it appears that only the Russian Service reported on the statement, but with a delay of a few hours and well behind RT.

Ambassador McFaul’posted his statement more than 10 hours ago on his Facebook page and on his Twitter account. RT (Russia Today) reported on it soon afterwards. The VOA English website still does not mention it. Among VOA’s 45 language services, it appears that only the Russian Service reported on the statement, but with a delay of a few hours and well behind RT.

UPDATE 7:30PM ET – As of 7:30PM ET, a reference in the VOA English report from Moscow to “a female suicide bomber” has finally been removed hours after BBC and RT (Russia Today) have already posted information contradicting this initial report.

It took VOA English News many hours to remove and correct possibly inaccurate and in any case disputed information.

[We were wrong and somehow missed that VOA did not actually remove this disputed information. It was still in the report at 8PM ET.]

As of 8PM ET, Dec. 29, Voice of America (VOA) is still reports information which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, and RT (Russia Today) had described as disputed hours ago.

As of 8PM ET, Dec. 29, Voice of America (VOA) is still reports information which Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, and RT (Russia Today) had described as disputed hours ago.

VOA English News is still not reporting on the State Department Statement of a statement of condolences from U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, which was posted online more than 10 hours ago. RT has been reporting on both statements for some hours.

UPDATE 7:00PM ET: It has been over 10 hours since U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul issued his statement of condolences after the suicide terror attack in Volgograd, in which 16 people are reported dead, but the Voice of America (VOA) English news website has still not reported on his statement or on a later statement from the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemning the attack.

Other than changing the number of dead — but still hours later than BBC, Al Jazeera, RT (Russia Today), and RFE/RL’s Radio Liberty Russian Service (Radio Svoboda) — the VOA English website report has not been updated with any new additional information for over 7 hours.

VOA report still says: “MOSCOW — Russian officials say they believe a female suicide bomber caused an explosion that killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens Sunday at the entrance to a train station in Volgograd.”

BBC has already been reporting for some hours that “initial official claims that the bomber was a lone woman have been replaced by uncertainty about who carried it out.”

RT (Russia Today) has also been reporting for some hours that the person who set off the explosion has not been positively identified.

Suicide bomber’s identity disputed

The Committee originally said a female suicide bomber detonated the bomb when she saw a police officer while approaching the metal detector.

But since then the suicide bomber’s identity has been disputed. (…)

A few hours later, more evidence emerged suggesting that a man could have also been involved in the attack. The version, which was also picked up by investigators, came after a male finger with a pin from a grenade was found at the scene. – RT (Russia Today) Suicide bomber kills 16 in Russia’s Volgograd (VIDEO)

The VOA English website report is not being corrected and updated with any of the new information, which contradicts the VOA report and is being reported by BBC, RT, and RFE/RL’s Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) Russian Service.

Un-updated VOA English reports shows

There is also still nothing on the VOA English website on the State Department statement.

The State Department statement has now been posted online for about two to three hours.

State Department Statement on Russia Terror Attack

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