BBG Watch Commentary
U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) continues to give late and perfunctory coverage of significant news developments relating to U.S. government, Russia, China, Ukraine, and other major international players and news stories.
On Monday, VOA English website had only one sentence describing the content of President Obama’s call with President Xi of China and even that took VOA a while to post, while China’s CCTV posted two separate, full-length reports, one of them with video. Voice of Russia also posted a full-length separate report on the Obama – Xi phone call about Russia and Ukraine.
As of 1:00PM EDT Monday, VOA Chinese Service had a slightly longer report on the Obama – Xi phone call, but VOA Ukrainian and Russian services did not. The White House statement on the phone call which took place Sunday evening was released Monday at about 7:00AM EDT.
VOA news reporting in English and foreign languages suffers from mismanagement by senior executives and diversion of resources to the bureaucracy and production of feature reports, including dozens of such VOA reports in recent years on the British royal family and several reports recently on Canadian pop star Justin Bieber while significant news from the White House, the State Department, and the U.S. Congress were not being reported by Voice of America or were reported late and superficially.
Voice of America correspondents have been complaining for years about mismanagement, poor employee morale, and failures in news reporting and website management, but their complaints have been ignored by VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch, sources told BBG Watch.
Highly respected VOA White House correspondent Dan Robinson retired recently and sent a blistering condemnation of the management in a letter to the oversight Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
Individual VOA correspondents produce excellent news reports, such as this one by Elizabeth Arrott in Yalta, Crimea, On The Scene: Elizabeth Arrott in Yalta, Crimea, VOA, March 10, 2014, but in general, VOA news coverage is spotty and updating of news websites is irregular. There has been some improvement toward the end of last week, as a result of criticism from BBG Watch and others, but it did not last past business hours into the weekend.
According to the White House statement, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping “affirmed their shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine.” The statement also said that “the two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system.”
As of 1:50PM EST, the Voice of America English website only had a two-sentence summary of the phone call in one of its reports.
“The President noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference. The two leaders committed to stay in touch as events unfold,” the White House statement said.
China’s state-run international media outlet CCTV had posted two separate reports, a longer one from Xinhua news agency and another one with video.
Chinese, U.S. presidents exchange views on bilateral ties, Ukraine over phone, CCTV, March 10, 2014
Chinese, US presidents discuss bilateral ties, Ukraine, CCTV, March 10, 2014
The longer CCTV report on the Obama – Xi phone call had 334 words. VOA English news one sentence summary of the content of the phone call had 22 words.
Voice of Russia separate full-length report on the Obama – Xi phone call had 188 words.
US and Chinese presidents discuss Ukraine crisis, Voice of Russia, March 10, 2014
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)
Even Al Jazeera devoted more space to the Obama – Xi phone call about Ukraine and Russia than the Voice of America English news website. Although Al Jazeera did not have a separate report on the phone call, its description of the content of the conversation from Chinese sources had 74 words to VOA’s 22.
VOA NEWS: The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders affirmed their “shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful solution” to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2014
Readout of the President’s Call with President Xi of China
The President spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the evening of March 9 regarding the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the fundamental importance of focusing on common interests and deepening practical cooperation to address regional and global challenges for the development of bilateral relations. In that context, they affirmed their shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system. The President noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference. The two leaders committed to stay in touch as events unfold.