BBG Watch Commentary


Former Voice of America (VOA) director David S. Jackson says in an article in the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy CPD Blog that U.S. taxpayer-funded international media outreach outlet currently managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) agency ($777 million in FY2017) “constantly violates” its VOA Charter, a law passed by Congress and signed by President Ford in 1976. The VOA Charter requires VOA news to be “accurate,” “objective,” and “comprehensive” and include a clear explanation of the policies of the United States, as well as balanced opinions about such policies.

Jackson was VOA director from 2002 to 2008 during the George W. Bush administration. He had worked earlier as a journalist at The Chicago Daily News and as a correspondent and bureau chief for Time Magazine. He also worked on media projects at the Pentagon and on public diplomacy projects at the State Department. In 2012-2013 he was Executive Editor of The Washington Times.

In his CPD Blog article, Jackson observes that the Voice of America under its current VOA and BBG leadership often uses wire service reports that do not fulfill all the requirements of the VOA Charter.

While many wire service reports used now by VOA do not include information on the policies of the U.S. government, Jackson points out that even some of VOA’s staff-written stories violate the Charter and provides examples.

“When Congress approved the Charter, they didn’t tell VOA that it would be nice if their stories were balanced, or that, if it wasn’t too much trouble, they hoped that VOA would try to report on U.S. policies. Instead, they used the word ‘will.’ Repeatedly,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson also argues strongly against the current BBG/VOA leadership’s push to do “investigative reporting.” He points out that it’s not part of VOA’s “Congressionally-mandated mission, and never has been.”

“Real investigative reporting is expensive, time-consuming, difficult to do well, and potentially litigious,” Jackson observes. He added that “VOA doesn’t need (and can’t afford) any of those problems.”

He offers the following advice:

“VOA’s reporters need to focus instead on the day-to-day basics that their Charter actually demands, and make sure that all of the stories they run are balanced, objective, and comprehensive, and that the stories they run about international issues in particular include information about U.S. policies and where the American government stands.”


READ MORE: WHAT’S IN VOA’S CHARTER—AND WHAT ISN’T, By David S. Jackson, CPD Blog, February 21, 2017.



Another former Voice of America director, Robert Reilly, also criticized biased Voice of America reporting.

SEE: Former director decries bias, partisanship, lack of vision at Voice of America, BBG Watch, February 18, 2017.



ALSO SEE BBG Watch Commentary: Voice of America keeps fake immigration news long after White House, DHS denials, BBG Watch, February 17, 2017.


ALSO SEE BBG Watch Commentary: Voice of America compares Trump to Lenin, Stalin, Mao in a one-sided attack, BBG Watch, February 18, 2017.


ALSO SEE on management and oversight failures at the BBG: BBG management followed, legitimized fake VOA Iran Twitter feed for years, BBG Watch, February 22, 2017.