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New Announcement from USAGM Watch Citizen Journalists
Citizen journalists working as unpaid volunteers for non-partisan and independent USAGM Watch have decided to resume on an experimental, occasional basis their commentaries and reports on the publicly-funded activities of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). We see the continuing need for providing an independent oversight and a measure of civic accountability for the $800 million (recent average annual budget) federal agency which manages five networks: two federal organizations — the Voice of America (VOA) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which oversees Radio and TV Martí — and three non-profit organizations — Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) — which receive grants from USAGM. USAGM also provides grants to the Open Technology Fund (OTF).
If there is a positive response from our readers to our new initiative, we hope to continue and expand the work of BBG Watch, which suspended its publication in December 2020 when our co-founder, journalist Ted (Tadeusz) Lipien, who led VOA broadcasts to Poland during Solidarity trade union’s struggle for democracy in the 1980s, took the position of RFE/RL President, which he held until his removal by the new acting USAGM CEO in late January. Lipien fully supports the work of his predecessor and successor at RFE/RL, Jamie Fly, and applauds his decisive dealing with blackmail by Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to force RFE/RL to leave Russia, which may soon happen and require special coverage by USAGM Watch. We also think that members of Congress who are close to their constituencies have been particularly helpful in improving USAGM operations.
We are eager to hear comments and suggestions from our readers for future coverage and commentary as we try to determine how in our citizen journalists’ roles we can best serve the needs of the struggling federal media agency, its foreign audiences, USAGM, VOA, OCB and grantee organizations’ employees, and American taxpayers who need to know if their tax money is wisely used.
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