Two recent articles posted on the website of the Broadcasting Board of Governors’s (BBG) employee union, AFGE Local 1812, pointedly describe the management crisis and its causes at the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting. The first article, re-posted here, is titled “Bloated Bureaucracy,” and is based on investigative reporting by BBG Watch.
The AFGE Local 1812 article shows how the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) has expanded its executive and bureaucratic ranks while eliminating news programs and language services.
The second article, titled “A New Campaign of Truth,” shows how IBB management is failing in its mission to deliver news from the United States and from countries without free media to international audiences.
by American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812
In 1950 at the beginning of the Cold War, former President Harry Truman focused the U.S. administration and Congress on launching a “Campaign of Truth”, using Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America.
A plain-talking man, Mr. Truman knew that the “plain, unvarnished truth” was stronger than the most powerful missiles, the most desperate terrorists, the most ruthless dictatorships. He knew that behind the Iron Curtain, populations were keen to hear about ideals cherished by U.S. citizens.
Fast forward to today. The U.S has been at war against international terrorism for some 12 years now, but instead of emulating the example of the wisdom of President Truman, and redoubling its efforts to spread the truth and U.S. values throughout the world, Agency management has spent the past 12 years de facto silencing the Voice of America and compromising the effectiveness of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This has been done via the elimination of language services, the evisceration of the V0A Central News Division and the English Service, the reckless adoption of multiple web technologies of dubious impact, senseless social media experiments, an inadequate webpage, the elimination of still-effective radio broadcasts, the building of bureaucratic bloat, and the callous disposal of faithful and competent staff.
The result is plain for all to see: the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting are in disarray, and struggling to refocus. The United States government and U.S. taxpayers are less and less capable of reaching nations held hostage by extremist and terrorist propaganda.
In the past, the Voice of America broadcast the incomparable values cherished by U.S. citizens: the rule of law, human rights, liberty, equality, democracy, tolerance – among others. Today, struggling people around the world still seek the “plain, unvarnished truth”. But they can no longer rely on the U.S. international broadcasting entities to quench their thirst for information, values and ideals.
Employees have learned that we cannot count on Agency management or those in the Executive Branch to stop the slide into irrelevance. The buck, in this case, has been passed to the Congress.
As Russia and China waver in their quest for free expression, as North Africa and the Middle East sink into despair and chaos, as Africa struggles to establish the rule of law, we call on Congress to provide the Agency with the type of management that will again allow its broadcast entities to wage a new “Campaign of Truth”.