BBG Watch Commentary
At his first open Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting, newly-confirmed BBG Chairman Jeff Shell praised agency employees, particularly its journalists.
“We have a lot of very, very good people and very committed people that work for this organization who are working really hard and doing really good work across a number of fields,” Jeff Shell said.
Shell alluded to the problem of low employee morale which has plagued the agency since at least 2007 and indicated that it is one of the issues that needs to be worked on.
“I think the core of what I came away was, God, we have some really great people, particularly on the journalist side, where we have journalists who in some cases are risking their personal safety, risking their lives to go out and to do good work,” Jeff Shell said. “That’s really the tip of the spear, this is where this organization and its mission meet the everyday realities of the world that we live in,” Shell added.
A BBG press release stated:
“Shell commented on the valuable contributions of the agency’s employees in covering the news and advancing freedom of expression, and he highlighted the dangers that many reporters face on a daily basis. He took special note of the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Alhurra TV’s reporter Bashar Fahmi in Syria. Fahmi went missing after a firefight in Aleppo that took the life of another journalist and resulted in the capture of cameraman Cüneyt Ünal, who was later released.’Journalists are at the heart of the agency’s mission, and they face risks every day in carrying out their duties,’ Shell said. “This has been a long year of uncertainty and pain for Bashar’s wife and children and his Alhurra family. I ask that anyone with information about Bashar’s whereabouts or well-being step forward.”
Shell called attention to other threats to BBG journalists. Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijan Service is facing escalating threats following her reporting on government corruption. RFE/RL’s Georgian Service reports receiving a letter threatening its stringers on the ground, and in Cairo, while reporting on the crackdown on pro-Morsi protestors, VOA reporters Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks were pulled from their car, roughed up and detained by police. The Board paused to remember Simon Wade Kasmiro, a reporter working on VOA’s South Sudan in Focus radio show, who was killed in a traffic accident on August 5, 2013.”
Also see: BBG Chairman Jeff Shell: ‘Best way to showcase freedom and democracy is by free media’, BBG Watch.
Also see: Suzie Carroll appointed BBG Executive Director, BBG Watch.