BBG Watch Commentary
News reporting failures at the Voice of America (VOA) are so frequent and so numerous these days that even BBG Watch cannot keep up and report on them all promptly. We have just noticed that VOA English news website has had absolutely no news reports at all during the last few days on major anti-corruption and anti-government demonstrations in Bosnia, which turned violent at the end of last week.
Thousands of anti-government demonstrators stormed the Bosnian presidency building and another government offices in Sarajevo and set them on fire Friday. Riot police fired tear gas to stop them, with many injuries reported.
Government buildings were also set on fire in other Bosnian cities. Thousands of protesters vented their fury over Bosnia’s almost 40 percent unemployment and widespread corruption. Almost all international news media reported this except Voice of America online English news service and most of VOA’s language services.
Numerous searches of the Voice of America English news website have produced not a single report on these developments or any reports about Bosnia in recent days.
Even though the Voice of America Charter says that “VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies,” (U.S. Public Law 94-350), VOA English news service failed to report on the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo statement on the protests. Audiences in Ukraine, Russia, Iran, China and in other countries with rampant corruption and without free media have not been informed online by Voice of America about this U.S. statement on the anti-corruption demonstrations in Bosnia
U.S. Embassy Statement Regarding Protests: http://t.co/Dw0LA5p0w4
— US Embassy Sarajevo (@USEmbassySJJ) February 9, 2014
While VOA’s highly successful Balkan services, including the VOA Bosnian Service, as well as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) language services, covered the demonstrations in Bosnia extensively on their own for their audiences, website searches of the vast majority of 40 other VOA foreign language services, with programs to such key countries as Ukraine, Russia, and Iran, have shown no news coverage of the violent anti-government and anti-corruption protests.
This is yet another sign of a complete breakdown of Voice of America executive management and news reporting.
Led by Director David Ensor and Executive Editor Steve Redisch, VOA English news produced recently six reports on Canadian pop star Justin Bieber’s drunk driving charges, but failed to note a major protest in a region where not too long ago U.S. military had been heavily involved. Earlier VOA posted dozens of news reports on the British royal baby christening in October 2013 and the British royal wedding in 2011.
Intimidated Voice of America reporters are protesting anonymously against ‘fluff journalism’ pushed by senior management.
caption = Voice of America’s Coverage of British Royals in 2011 and 2013
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Voice of America Director David Ensor. Critics say that VOA news reporting under him and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redish has declined and nearly collapsed.
U.S. taxpayers paid for these programs by the Voice of America (VOA) while many human rights-related news stories and important U.S. foreign policy pronouncements by the White House, the State Department, and members of Congress went unreported on VOA websites in recent months and years.
Years and months later, these reports on the British royalty posted on the VOA English website show zero or very few Facebook “Likes” or any other indication of any notable audience engagement through social media.
IF YOU ARE A U.S. TAXPAYER YOU MUST CHECK THIS OUT
Excited Crowds Fill London Streets for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Royal Wedding Ceremony Steeped in Grandeur, Tradition Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Kate Middleton Wears Wedding Dress by Sarah Burton Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Wedding Celebrations Held in Streets Across Britain Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Americans Rise Early for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Celebrities, Sports Stars Among Royal Wedding Guests Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain Hopes for Billion-Dollar Economic Boost from Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM
Crowds Gather for Britain’s Royal Wedding; Syrian Diplomat Pulled Off Guest List Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM
London Readies for Royal Wedding Day Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM
Formal Clothing, Informal Speeches Typical at British Weddings Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 26, 2011 8:00 PM
British Public Divided Over Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain Preparing Security for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain’s Royal Wedding: From Cake to Clergy Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM
Bahrain Prince Declines British Royal Wedding Invitation Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 24, 2011 8:00 PM
David Beckham, Elton John Among Royal Wedding Guests Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 24, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain Notes Big Change in Royal Wedding Souvenirs Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 21, 2011 8:00 PM
Prince William, Bride-to-Be Middleton Visit Princess Diana’s Grave Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain’s Queen Formally Approves Prince William’s Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM
Britain’s Queen Celebrates 85th Birthday Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM
Royal Wedding: William & Kate Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:50 AM
A Royal Obsession, Do Americans Care? Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 19, 2011 8:00 PM
Muslim Group Applies to Protest Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM
YouTube to Air Britain’s Royal Wedding Live Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM
Princesses in Training Get Tips at Royal Tea Party Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 17, 2011 8:00 PM
10 Ways You Can Get Into the Spirit of the Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 14, 2011 8:00 PM
British Royal Engagement Sparks Interest in Modern Monarchies Voice of America (VOA) English website, November 29, 2010 7:00 PM
Britain Announces Royal Wedding Date Voice of America (VOA) English website, November 22, 2010 7:00 PM
VOA on British Royal Christening, October 2013
Among five reports on the VOA website on the royal christening in Britain posted on October 23 and 24, 2013, none has more than 20 Facebook “Likes” as of October 28, 2013, one had zero Facebook “Likes” and another one had three.
October 23, 2013 12:08 PM
……..was born on July 22. In the arms of his mother as she left the the palace’s Chapel Royal, George was dressed in a long cream satin robe that was a replica of an 1841 gown made for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. Kate, a style icon whose outfits often increase sales of similar garments, wore an off-white, ruffled skirt-suit, made by British fashion house Alexander McQueen, and pillbox hat by British milliner Jane Taylor ….
October 23, 2013 8:20 AM
……..William and Kate’s decision is a break with the tradition of choosing royal dignitaries to take on the ceremonial role, and a continuation of their effort to portray a more informal, modern image to austerity-hit Britons. After the christening, guests will attend a private tea at Clarence House, hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla. Hollywood photographer Jason Bell has been tapped to take official photos of the event, that will include a “historic multi-generational photograph” of the queen
Reporters: VOA News
October 23, 2013 12:14 AM
Carla Babb Prince George, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is being christened in Britain on Wednesday. In a break from tradition, the christening of the world’s most famous baby will be as low key as possible. Three months ago, Prince William and his wife Catherine shared their bundle of joy with the world. And just as the royal couple broke with tradition ….
Reporters: Carla Babb
October 22, 2013 9:59 AM
Reuters A British photographer known for his portraits of rock stars and Hollywood actors was named on Tuesday as the official photographer of the world’s newest celebrity – Prince George. Prince William and his wife Kate have chosen Jason Bell to photograph the christening on Wednesday, October 23, of their son, the third-in-line to the British throne, a palace statement said. Bell, 44, is an award-winning photographer best known for portraits of celebrities such as musician Paul McCartney, footballer David Beckham ….
October 23, 2013 12:19 PM
a central London chapel, where he made his first public appearance since his birth in July. Prince George was seen in the arms of his father, Prince William, as the elder prince and his wife Kate arrived at the Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace for Wednesday’s traditional Anglican Christian ceremony. The infant was wearing a white satin gown, a replica of one made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. In a private ceremony inside the chapel ….
Meanwhile, all other major international media outlets have been reporting at length on Bosnian demonstrations over a number of days. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which like VOA is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), posted a number of timely reports in English, some of which Voice of America could have used, but did not. RFE/RL reported Sunday that Valentin Inzko, the international high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has raised the prospect of sending in EU soldiers if the current unrest in the country escalates. Inzko told the Austrian “Kurier” daily on February 9 that the situation in Bosnia was “the worst” since the end of the 1992-95 war, RFE/RL reported.
Deutsche Welle (DW) provided Sunday an excellent news analysis of the situation in Bosnia in an interview with former German envoy to Sarajevo Christian Schwarz-Schilling.
Sun, Feb 09, 2014 Source: DW (Germany)
Other DW reports:
Protesters in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stormed government buildings across the country, setting several ablaze. The country is witnessing its worst social unrest since the end of the 1992-95 war. (08.02.2014)
Protests have escalated in Bosnia, as demonstrators set fire to the country’s presidency building in Sarajevo. Crowds of demonstrators are swelling as the protests continue in other cities. (07.02.2014)
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Bosnia. They are demonstrating in support of laid off workers in the northern town of Tuzla. (06.02.2014)
BBC had numerous reports over the last few days:
9 February 2014
8 February 2014
7 February 2014
In pictures: Bosnia protests, BBC NewsEurope / 7 February 2014 Images from Bosnia-Hercegovina where anti-government protests have entered their third day, in the worst unrest since the end of the Bosnian war..
Violent protests escalate in Bosnia, BBC News7 February 2014 Demonstrators in Bosnia-Hercegovina have set fire to government buildings, in the worst unrest since the end of the 1992-95 war.
Russia’s RT reported that more than 150 people were injured in the last few days in Bosnia during anti-government demonstrations.
Violent protests across Bosnia injure 150, as people demand govt. overhaul, RT… the streets, there are around 550,000 unemployed people in Bosnia,” as Reuters was told by Almir Arnaut, an unemployed economist …
07.02.2014 02:57Over 130 injured as Bosnian anti-government protests turn violent, RT… occurred in the towns of Zenica, Bihac, Mostar, and Bosnia’s capital of Sarajevo, where protesters blocked traffic in the city …
Al Jazeera reported that An anti-privatisation protest in the city of Tuzla has exploded into general social insurrection
It’s spring at last in Bosnia and Herzegovina, AL Jazeera
An anti-privatisation protest in the city of Tuzla has exploded into general social insurrection.
Last Modified: Sun, 09 Feb 2014
Lana Pasic, Al Jazeera
Lana Pasic is an independent writer and analyst from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Last Modified: Sun, 09 Feb 2014
United States Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina Statement
U.S. EMBASSY STATEMENT REGARDING PROTESTS: This past week’s protests in Tuzla, Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and other cities in the Federation of BiH and Brcko District were a demonstration of citizens’ frustration with the current economic, social, and political situation in the Federation and BiH more generally. We have long called on the citizens of BiH to hold their elected leaders responsible through civic activism efforts and participating in elections. We have been and will continue to support the right of BiH citizens to assemble and protest peacefully. Strong public discourse and two way dialogue between citizens and leaders are the clearest signs of a healthy democracy.
At the same time, we must condemn violence in any form. Violence against protesters, police, journalists, and public property is not acceptable and must end. The use of violence distracts attention from the fundamental message we see the vast majority of protesters trying to make — that reform is necessary now.
Government leaders have the responsibility to listen to and hear citizens’ very legitimate calls for reform. We call on government leaders at all levels in BiH to take the demands of citizens seriously, to reject efforts to use the protests to stoke fear and advance nationalist agendas, and to come together to make the difficult compromises necessary to move BiH forward. The necessary reforms can and should come from within the institutions of BiH and must respect Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as a state composed of two entities and Brcko District.
In the coming days, we expect BiH leaders to ensure the peace while listening to and respecting the people. There is much work to be done for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become a prosperous and fully democratic state where institutions and political leaders serve the people effectively and are accountable.