BBG Watch Commentary

Sunday morning, Voice of America put San Francisco plane crash headline under another headline at the bottom of its home page.
Sunday morning, Voice of America put San Francisco plane crash headline under another headline at the bottom of its home page. VOA's coverage of the story has been minimal and social media engagement, compared to Facebook 'Likes' for Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today, is almost nonexistent for this and nearly all other VOA news stories on its English language website.

China’s international satellite television channel, CCTV, is providing full coverage of the South Korean airliner’s crash in San Francisco, while U.S. funded international media outlet, the Voice of America (VOA), failed to offer original coverage and has been hours late in updating on its English website a short VOA news story which is based largely on wire service reports.

International audiences not just in China ignored VOA and went to other international media such as Russia Today and Al Jazeera, which like CCTV were fast to report on the crash and constantly updated their news with new information, new reports, new photos and videos.

By Saturday evening California time, news reports on Al Jazeera, BBC and Russia Today websites received thousands of Facebook “Likes,” while VOA’s initial post from Reuters which stayed un-updated on the site for at least three hours had only 5 Facebook “Likes.”

By Sunday morning, VOA English website moved the plane crash headline to the bottom of its home page, placing it below a link to another aviation story, “Solar-power Plane Completes Flight Over US.”

Meanwhile, China’s CCTV created a special page on its English website for the coverage of the plane crash. 141 Chinese were reportedly on board and two had died.

As one international media expert explained, Voice of America and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) management was AWOL, while Chinese CCTV, Al Jazeera, Russia Today and BBC did what good news organizations always do.

“China’s CCTV is doing what any trained journalists working for a serious news organization would do in this situation: cover the event and all its facets.

The fact that this happened in the United States, in San Francisco, and the fact it was a South Korean plane with many Chinese passengers on board as well South Koreans and citizens of other countries, made it not only a domestic U.S. story but above all an international one. FOX carried an informative interview with a representative from Boeing who explained why so many people survived.

About 20 years ago many safety features were incorporated for the plane’s interior in case of crash landings. Flame-resistant interiors were installed and crews received rigorous training for safe egress of the passengers. Plus the fact that emergency medical teams and fire and rescue personnel were dispatched to the crash site within minutes, emergency rooms in local hospitals were quickly alerted – in other words, what did Americans do in the face of this catastrophe?

That was our, Voice of America’s story, plus the responsibility of informing our audiences and giving updates to those clamoring to get information in China, Korea, and in other countries as well. But we were AWOL.”


BBC posted a report on the good safety record and good reputation of Boeing 777, the plane that crashed while landing in San Francisco. Voice of America did not, even though Boeing is an American company. VOA reported that “In 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777 jet crash-landed short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, but all on board survived.” VOA news story did not say what caused the London crash.

San Francisco crash plane ‘has good reputation’, BBC.

CCTV also had a video report on Boeing 777 but it did not specifically address the safety issue. VOA had no such reports about the Boeing plane.

A closer look at the Boeing 777-200, CCTV.


China’s CCTV does not show Facebook statistics, probably because Facebook is banned in China, but CCTV’s coverage on its English-language website has been superb. Other international broadcasters have attracted thousands of online readers and viewers with their San Francisco plane crash stories. VOA’s Facebook “Likes” for the story went up from 5 to 148 by Sunday morning after VOA finally updated its initial report with information that there were casualties. The VOA story still had only 26 Tweets and 0 Google+.

Al Jazeera English plane crash story (Sun. AM CA) had 1,200 Facebook “Likes,” 348 Tweets and 18 Google+.

Russia Today English plane crash story (Sun. AM CA) had over 7,000 Facebook “Likes,” 1,883 Tweets and 124 Google+.

BBC English news story on the crash had 14,087 Facebook “Likes” as of Sunday afternoon and 4,096 Tweets.

But the most extensive coverage of the story is being provided by China’s CCTV. LINK to CCTV Special Coverage.

Link to CCTV Special Coverage

Link to CCTV Special Coverage

The latest VOA News report on the plane crash is short on information and can hardly compare to coverage from CCTV, BBC, Al Jazeera or Russia Today.

Two Dead, 19 Remain Hospitalized in San Francisco Jet Crash

As of 3:00 PM CA, this VOA report shows 5 Facebook “Likes/Recommends.”

VOA News
July 07, 2013

San Francisco’s fire chief says 19 people remain hospitalized, six in critical condition, after an Asiana Airlines jet carrying more than 300 passengers and crew members crashed while landing Saturday at the city’s airport.

The two passengers killed were 16-year-old Chinese girls who were among a group of 30 students and their teachers headed to a summer camp from east China’s Zhejiang province.

The Asiana flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped in South Korea before heading to San Francisco, in the western U.S. state of California.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are examining flight data recorders found in the wreckage for clues to what caused the Boeing 777 to crash.

Witnesses say the plane’s tail appeared to hit the runway first as it landed. After the crash, much of the cabin burned through and debris was scattered along the runway.

Asiana Airlines officials say the there is no indication of mechanical problems with the plane or its engines at the time of the crash.

Asiana is South Korea’s second largest airline after national carrier Korean Air.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says there is no indication the accident was linked to terrorism. The FBI will work with the National Transportation Safety Board, Korean investigators and Boeing as the probe unfolds.

President Barack Obama expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.

The Xinhua News Agency Sunday said China’s President Xi Jinping offered his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered Chinese diplomatic missions to do everything they can to help the survivors.

In 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777 jet crash-landed short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, but all on board survived.

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