BBG Watch Just Asking

Did Voice of America executive editor assign anyone to cover White House after 3PM on on Crimea referendum day?


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It appears that VOA executives did not have a VOA correspondent at the White House after hours on Sunday and perhaps not even in late afternoon, because when the White House National Security Council press office tweeted at about 4:47 PM that President Obama was talking on the phone with President Putin, VOA Newsroom did not issue a news report and there was no report from any VOA correspondent that an important phone call between two leaders was taking place.



The White House subsequently  issued a statement at about 6:20 PM on President Obama’s phone call with President Putin.

By 6:30 PM and perhaps even earlier, Voice of Russia had its first report on the phone. Soon thereafter, the Russian state international broadcaster had three other reports on its English language news website.

BBC also reported on the White House statement almost immediately.

The first VOA brief mention of the phone call did not appear until about 7:15 PM EDT and VOA gave the entire conversation only two sentences, 65 words in a report that was not about the phone call itself. There was not even a VOA English news headline with a reference to the phone call.

Voice of Russia’s reports specifically devoted to the Obama-Putin phone call had altogether over 600 words. Al Jazeera had six sentences on the call (190 words.)

Considering what was going on news-wise in Crimea, we are wondering whether Voice of America executive editor assign anyone to cover White House after 3PM?

Was there a VOA correspondent covering the White House Sunday afternoon and evening?

We have not seen on any VOA websites any VOA correspondent reports from the White House on the Obama-Putin phone call about the Crimean referendum.

As of 10:30 PM EDT Sunday, VOA English news website still has only about 65 words on the phone call; VOA Russian and Ukrainian services have only slightly more. Other VOA language services have nothing or very little to say about President Obama’s Sunday phone call with President Putin.

Voice of America could have been the first news outlet to report that the phone call was taking place and the first one to report on the White House statement.

It was, however, Voice of Russia that not only reported the news first but managed to issue four different reports, as opposed to two sentences (65 words) on VOA English news, and not much more on VOA Ukrainian and Russian websites.

It should be noted that the hard-working and neglected VOA Ukrainian Service did report quite early that the phone call was taking place. But the service had to reproduce content other than VOA’s. Ultimately, even VOA Ukrainian Service did not have resources to post online its own full-length report on the conversation and was only able to put in a few sentences in its online LIVE UPDATES.


Can Voice of America survive much longer as a news organization under this kind of management by its executives?

Should executives who have shown that they cannot manage multimedia news coverage and who threaten and alienate VOA journalists rather than lead and inspire them step aside at this sensitive time for U.S. national security interests overseas?


VOA Homepage Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 11.05PM EDT
VOA Homepage Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 11.05PM EDT


As of 11:00PM EDT Sunday visitors to the VOA English homepage would not see a headline that a phone call between President Obama and President Putin about Crimea took place. The Obama-Putin phone call is mentioned under the headline: “Obama: US, EU Prepared to Penalize Russia for Crimea Ballot.” This leads to a VOA News report that has only two sentences about the phone call itself.