BBG Watch Commentary
The news of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigning was posted today (Wednesday) by Russia’s RT website, which is edited in Moscow, long before it appeared on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) news website, which is edited in Washington, DC. BBC likewise had the Secret Service director resignation story in its website well before VOA did.
Even when VOA finally mentioned the resignation in a news report, it was not reflected in the story’s headline or on the VOA homepage for quite some time. VOA is habitually late in updating its headlines, and updating news stories as well.
Today, VOA English News once again was left in the dust by the competition on an important Washington, DC story where the information was coming from official sources and did not require any additional checking. Even Russia’s RT beat VOA on the Secret Service director resignation story, handled it promptly and gave it more attention than VOA.
On Washington news stories like this one, RT should not be faster and better than VOA. RT is also beating VOA badly on U.S. news stories and all other news in social media outreach.
At 11:30 PM EDT, RT’s report, “US Secret Service director resigns after series of scandals,” is showing 792 Facebook “Shares,” 338 Tweets and 48 comments. VOA report, “US Secret Service Director Resigns,” is showing 16 Facebook “Shares,” 19 Tweets and has no comments since comments were not activated for this post. Keep in mind that this VOA report has been online much longer than the RT report. VOA took an older report on problems with the U.S. Secret Service, added information about the director’s resignation and changed the headline.
BBC, RT and all other major U.S. and international media outlets handled the resignation story much better than VOA. BBC had a breaking news scroll item, then very quickly, major BREAKING NEWS story in middle of its homepage. RT had it first as BREAKING NEWS and then as the top news item well before VOA even put it on its homepage as news item number six.
The VOA newsroom is getting somewhat better at posting breaking news items, but it is still unable to react as quickly as BBC or RT, even on U.S. news stories and news stories originating in Washington.
While the VOA newsroom is understaffed and poorly managed, the VOA web team still does not know how to reflect important news items on the homepage, even in short breaking form, when the newsroom or VOA correspondents file their reports. After the Secret Service directors resignation, VOA “Top Stories” scroll had not changed for quite some time. This problem with VOA “Top Stories” has been observed and mentioned by BBG Watch many times before. It is still not fixed. The VOA newsroom still misses many important U.S. and international stories.
While being late on the Julia Pierson’s resignation story is yet another embarrassment for VOA, it is far from being VOA’s worst news reporting disaster in recent months. A few days ago, VOA English News was not minutes but many hours behind RT and BBC on the Ferguson policeman shooting story. Both RT and BBC had it quickly among their top stories on their home pages. VOA did not post a story on the Ferguson shooting until the next day.