BBG Watch Commentary


This BBG Watch commentary was written as our introduction linking to an excellent investigative journalism article written for Columbia Journalism Review by Gary Thomas, a former Voice of America (VOA) senior correspondent. In this fact-based article, Gary Thomas does not offer much of his own commentary. It is also worth noting that the decision to close down the VOA bureau in Jerusalem and other examples of poor management happened long before the recent arrival at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) of veteran journalist and media executive Andy Lack who was given a mandate by the BBG to reform the Voice of America and the BBG’s bureaucracy.

With a recent Voice of America  column accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “eagerness to milk the Paris tragedy,” and calling his behavior “unseemly,” U.S. taxpayer-funded news media outlet for audiences abroad could definitely use keeping a permanent correspondent in Jerusalem, assuming any VOA correspondent based there is a good journalist, to offer a news perspective from Israel. The anti-Netanyahu VOA column, written in Washington, offered no opposing viewpoint, nor was it presented with another opinion piece with a pro-Netanyahu or a pro-Israel view.

In light of Voice of America senior executives tolerating such a one-sided approach to journalism at U.S. taxpayers’ expense, the management’s decision  to close down the VOA Jerusalem bureau may look highly suspicious to some, although not much more than simple incompetence and waste of government resources may be at stake.

Everyone familiar with the Voice of America and its parent federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, knows how bloated with bureaucracy they have become. The place is full of bureaucrats: directors, deputy directors, senior advisors to directors, program directors, program coordinators and countless other federal government employees not directly engaged in program production, but each making between $100,000 and $150,000 per year, not counting generous federal employment benefits. If this bureaucratic waste were reduced, the Voice of America could not only afford to keep its Jerusalem bureau open, but it could also expand the ranks of real journalists and improve its journalistic standards.


“(VOA Director) David Ensor led me to believe he was going to call Congress’ bluff,” said former VOA News chief Sonja Pace. “To my mind, he took a high-risk gamble, and he lost.” – See more at: Voice of America closing its Jerusalem bureau by Gary Thomas.



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