Voice of America Mission by Hans Tuch in New York Times

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Hans N. Tuch, former acting director and deputy director of the Voice of America (VOA), 1976-81, had his Letter to the Editor published in today’s New York Times with an argument for keeping Voice of America as “a vital instrument of the United States government’s public-diplomacy mission.”

Mr. Tuch had an interesting career that included both public diplomacy outreach abroad as part of the U.S. diplomatic service and news reporting for the Voice of America during the Cold War. He later occupied key management positions at the Voice of America as a Foreign Service officer.

Mr. Tuch first joined the State Department in 1949 and later moved to the United States Information Agency (USIA), which was created in 1953 as a public diplomacy agency staffed by FSOs. USIA became VOA’s parent government agency. Many Foreign Service officers, including Hans Tuch, were being given key management positions at VOA as part of their regular rotational diplomatic assignments well into the 1980s. In the 1950s, Mr. Tuch served as the America House Director and Cultural Affairs Officer in West Germany. He also had job as a Voice of America correspondent and editorial writer in Munich.

Hans Tuch came to the United States from Germany in 1938 as a 14-year-old and and later served with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He is a fluent German and Russian speaker. During his long diplomatic career, he served as the press and cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, a position he took in the late 1950s after working as a VOA correspondent in Munich. He returned to Voice of America in 1976, serving as acting director and deputy director until 1981.

In his Letter to the Editor, Mr. Tuch expressed support of keeping Voice of America “a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news, and to present the policies of the United States as well as responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.” These requirements are already part of the VOA Charter, a U.S. law passed in 1976.

Mr. Tuch wrote that the U.S. Senate should reconfirm the news reporting role for Voice of America, but he was also quite clear in his Letter to the Editor of The New York Times that VOA should again become part of the U.S. government’s public diplomacy mission as it was during most of its existence — a highly controversial proposition among some Voice of America reporters. One of them wrote in a June 2014 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times that since Voice of America started broadcasting to Nazi Germany in 1942 “[VOA] broadcasts have proved we can win that [information] war without walking in lock-step with U.S. foreign policy.”

One of the legacies of the previous period in Voice of America’s history when Mr. Tuch served with USIA and VOA is that some VOA foreign correspondents still hold limited Foreign Service assignments although they do not use diplomatic passports, no longer have to report to U.S. ambassadors while abroad, and are not entitled to some of the privileges reserved for regular Foreign Service officers. But for most of its existence, Voice of America had a very close connection to the U.S. Foreign Service and public diplomacy establishment and in early post-World War II years was under the direction of the U.S. State Department.

In today’s Letter to The Editor of The New York Times, Hans Tuch, a former U.S. diplomat and former Voice of America correspondent and executive, was clear that part of VOA’s mission should be to counter propaganda machines of America’s opponents.

HANS N TUCH: “Third, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is currently leaderless, must provide the resources as well as the technical and administrative support for V.O.A. to fulfill its worldwide mission and counter the growing sophisticated propaganda machines of our opponents.”

READ MORE: Voice of America’s Mission, Hans N. Tuch, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, April 22, 2015

 
 

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