BBG Watch Commentary

VOA-Samantha-Power-3-6-14U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) still misses or is late in reporting from Washington on Ukraine-related and Russia-related news developments. VOA Ukrainian and Russian services still lack sufficient resources to regularly update their Facebook and Twitter pages and to do more news coverage and more interviews. But as a result of criticism by BBG Watch and intervention by Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members, VOA coverage has improved somewhat in the last two days.

Everything is still not as it should be — news coverage slows down after business hours in Washington — but VOA reported today on U.S. accusing Putin of ‘False Claims’ on Ukraine and conducted an exclusive interview with U.S. envoy to the UN Samantha Power warning Russia on Ukraine.

It was not a great interview by VOA, but better than what international audiences were getting before in terms of U.S. official and unofficial responses to Russia’s military takeover of Crimea.

It remains to be seen whether this is just a temporary improvement due actions by frightened but discredited executives who have been lackadaisical about news reporting for years and responsible for dismally poor employee morale or whether VOA Director David Ensor has finally gotten the message that his top managers who have brought VOA to the point of implosion, and he himself, will not get any more slack from BBG members and U.S. taxpayers in times of such a serious geopolitical crisis.

The jury is still out. Something must be done about managers (both VOA and International Broadcasting Bureau) who have undermined news reporting and caused excellent VOA journalists to leave the organization.

But coverage of Russia and Ukraine by VOA was better on Wednesday, although at least two or three important U.S.-Ukraine-Russia news stories were still missed.

Let’s hope that this new improvement will continue and will be followed immediately by some changes within ranks of top executives. Without such changes, everybody can be sure that things will soon be back to normal — a clearly no longer acceptable outcome, as we hear from sources close to the BBG.

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