BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
According to an article by The Daily Caller reporter Shelby Talcott, Voice of America (VOA) director Amanda Bennett and her boss, U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO, John Lansing, both of them appointed during the Obama administration, had been warned multiple about highly partisan and offensive social media posts by a number of biased anti-Trump VOA reporters who are U.S. federal government employees. Both Bennett and Lansing, according to various reports, have ignored these warnings to the extent that they did not take effective actions to check for violations of the VOA Charter and to prevent them.
In this April 1, 2019 e-mail, shared with BBG – USAGM Watch by VOA employees, VOA director Amanda Bennett had announced her nomination of the VOA Press Freedom Editor. She had expressed her approval and praise for the VOA employee whom the Daily Caller article named as likely being involved in a partisan bias controversy on social media.
From: Amanda Bennett
Sent: Monday, April 1, 2019 3:14 PM
To: VOA Notices; USAGM Networks; USAGM House Announcements
Subject: Press Freedom Editor
You all know how important our new Press Freedom initiative is to VOA — so I am pleased to announce that Doug Bernard has been appointed VOA’s new Press Freedom Editor.
Doug has been with the agency since 2002, serving in a variety of multimedia jobs. He currently is editor, host and producer for English to Asia programs including “VOA Asia” and previously launched VOA’s cyber issues reporting and “Digital Frontiers” blog. He’s also held high-profile posts as lead TV English anchor and the Washington host for “The World Today.”
As Press Freedom Editor, Doug will be working as a mega bridge editor, working with journalists in all the divisions and services to identify, develop and highlight press freedom stories. Doug will curate an agency-wide English web page featuring all VOA Press Freedom stories, weekly profiles of journalists under fire and a live social media feed. Target launch date International Press Freedom Day, May 3. He will be working closely with Tom Detzel, our investigations editor, who is in charge of the overall project, and with Yolanda Lopez, the head of Central News.
This week and next, Doug and Tom will be dropping in on morning division news meetings to say hello, take your questions and gather intel. VOA journalists already do a tremendous job covering press freedom stories around the world; we want to be sure as much of that coverage is flagged and versioned into English for our new page, so please alert Doug whenever you have a press freedom story on deck.
Please congratulate Doug and think about ways you can work with him to advance this hugely important project.