BBG Watch Commentary
Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today immediately lead Thursday with news reports on President Obama’s statement, in which he strongly condemned the violence against Egyptian civilians and canceled joint military exercises, while the Voice of America (VOA) English news website still showed nothing on the story and later buried it in the bottom part of its site. Only much later, VOA made the Obama statement story its lead item.
Voice of America’s ability to quickly generate and post original news reports on its English website has been severely undermined due to personnel cuts and mismanagement at the top level of the agency. The VOA English website shows minimal audience engagement through social media and very few comments from readers.
Earlier, VOA management claimed that audience engagement through social media was of paramount importance. It now claims that VOA foreign language programs focus on countries where Facebook and Twitter are not commonly used. But a check of VOA language websites showed that many of them do just as poorly while use of social media in their target countries is already very high. Very often these services must rely on VOA English news reports which are late and inadequate for their needs.
Neglect and mismanagement at the top VOA and agency (IBB) level have affected nearly all Voice of America language services, as described in this article about the VOA Kurdish Service.
The report makes it obvious that the problems the VOA Kurdish Service faces do not originate within the service but result from mismanagement and lack of vision at the agency level.
Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today stories on President Obama’s statement gathered hundreds of Facebook “Likes” on each website to barely 14 for VOA story as of early Thursday afternoon Washington, DC time. Alhurra Arabic story had 273 Facebook “Likes.”