BBG Watch Guest Commentary


Voice of America Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 6.24 PM EDT
Voice of America Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 6.24 PM EDT


AnonymousBBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from a current Voice of America journalist who prefers to remain anonymous.

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A “Digital First” Plan for VOA Managers: Read Your Own Web Site

By A VOA Staff Member

As of 6:23 p.m. October 1, Wednesday (see the screenshot), two of the five stories teased with paragraphs at the top of the VOA News entertainment page were both obsolete and duplicates, about George Clooney’s “upcoming” wedding — a story that had been outdated for five days.

“Oscar winner set to renounce his oath of bachelorhood and marry British-Lebanese barrister Amal Alamuddin in a multi-day extravaganza,” one said. It went on to detail all the “plans,” and arriving guests, long after everyone had packed up and gone home, or on a honeymoon.

It’s kind of mind-boggling that this over 650-word Reuters story, outdated by late Saturday, remained at the top of the page — and in not just one, but in two separate spots — until Wednesday evening.

How is that the senior managers and editors behind the agency’s “Web First” plan (confusingly misnamed “Digital First”) do not realize that part of their jobs is to actually look at, even read, the VOA News web site?

It’s an unfortunately old story at VOA: the attitude of some top editors and managers that you can run a news organization without engaging with the content and quality, moment by moment and day by day. That you can get by just counting beans.

Despite VOA’s top-heavy editorial and management superstructure, the website is operated by an often bare-bones staff of producers of varying degrees of competence. Their supervisors don’t seem to check the “product” frequently, if at all, and their supervisors’ supervisors don’t check it, either.

The result: errors, howlers and moldy content that sometimes stay up on the website for days.

Ensor, Redisch, Jones, Baise? Is anybody there?

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