BBG Watch

The comments below were posted online by former Voice of America (VOA) staffers.

It has been shown that when the VOA Central English Newsroom is late in reporting news or when its coverage is superficial, the vast majority of VOA foreign language services are also late in reporting news and offer inadequate coverage.

“Don’t forget that times have changed, especially with the internet. People in closed societies have choices today, more choices than in the past. What differentiates the VOA official website from the BBC News website? I suggest the difference is a matter of timeliness and thoroughness. On both counts, BBC puts VOA to shame. News is a very competitive business, no matter who you are in the field of players. If you don’t, or can’t effectively compete, you might as well lock the doors and go home.”


“Well you don’t hear that from VOA management. They are all about cumulative audience totals. But I think it’s a false analogy to compare BBC English to VOA English. BBC is targeting the US. I don’t know what VOA English web is targeting. Sometimes I felt as though it existed just to show that VOA exists and does all kinds of stuff, which you can find on the website. Which foreign country that does not have access to a free media would be a target of VOA EBBC targets the US and I assume most of the FB likes are from the US. VOA is not supposed to target US audiences. I don’t think FB likes mean much because of the convoluted way they are generated-mostly from people who have chosen to follow a certain page. I don’t think VOA is that well known to a domestic audience so it’s not logical, assuming most BBC likes are from the US, that there should be a comparison. I think the VOA FB page may still be just an auto feed. Or it may just be reworked once a day to show a “best of” VOA reports, so it may not be that attractive to news junkies. Having a dedicated 25/7 FB editing operation may be a questionable use of resources.nglish web?”


“No, not really. The BBC spreads major news across several of its regional pages. Are they ‘targeting U.S. audiences’? No — they aim to, and succeed at, cover major breaking news in the most professional and comprehensive way they can. If you want to be in the news business, you play the game to the best of your capabilities, which VOA so often does not.”

“Fox News is interviewing witnesses and responders to this terrible tragedy in Oregon. They report the shooter is deceased. VOA’s official website has a total of 4 short paragraphs about this story. No background, no details, no interviews.

No report by VOA that the shooter is dead. Makes me glad I don’t rely upon VOA for my news.

Condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and those injured in this senseless tragedy.

Now, more than 2 hours after other U.S. and after foreign media reported the shooter was deceased, the official VOA website finally is reporting this information. Better late than never at VOA.


“The BBC News website has full video coverage of the Governor of Oregon’s speech regarding yesterday’s mass murder in Oregon. ABC News, via their webpage, reported as of 5:18 p.m. yesterday evening (the day of the shooting) that the gunman (who ABC News chose to identify, and show his picture)….. took his own life by committing suicide when police shot at him.

Note that none of this information, none of this coverage is yet being reported on the official VOA website (it’s now almost 1:30 a.m. Sunday Oct 4th).

Hello VOA, is anyone home? Is anyone paying any attention to what’s going on in America?

Or is it more important to put a movie review on the official VOA website about a Martian movie (yes, you read that right….VOA reviewing a Martian movie!)……now that’s quite a good use of taxpayer dollars, don’t you think? How reassuring it is to know the rest of
the world can count on VOA for reviews of Martian movies.

‘Nuff said.”


“Then eliminate the breaking news component altogether. Avoid repeated embarrassments. If the place can’t do that aspect of its job anymore, for reasons you and others repeatedly cite, then VOA should not pretend to be playing with the big guns.

If VOA’s “strength” (an outcome of steady degrading of a formerly robust breaking news capability) is now to produce video on stories that, it is frequently asserted, users are not likely to find elsewhere, then do that.

But review every area where human and technical resources are expended, in often bumbling attempts to provide breaking news at a competent level (newsroom, overseas staff, language services, technical). Examine all of these, and make a change. It would be more complex than people think, including a further re-focusing of the main English and language websites.

It should also include an honest message to whatever audiences are thought to remain — to no longer rely on VOA (if indeed they are anymore given BBC’s dominance) to see breaking news coverage. VOA, they should be told, is transforming essentially into a video feature service, using its foreign and domestic bureaus and paid freelancers.

VOA could, indeed, become basically a clearinghouse. Remember that description, used by a former director and his deputy, as they initiated a series of steps that ended up eroding formerly robust breaking news capabilities?

An argument has been made VOA should become basically an ATM machine for video packages delivered via the Internet, supplemented perhaps by pick ups of live events such as significant presidential statements and policy-related events. In that event, the VOA of today, of the size that it still is, in that crumbling edifice, could be sharply reduced.

As has been suggested in recent years, if all of this is done right, shrinkage would be inevitable. It could be placed out on a main corridor in Virginia or Maryland . . . stick it in Silver Spring. The VOA of tomorrow could look like those FBI operations centers we see in any one of a number of current or former TV shows (think ’24’ or ‘The Blacklist’).

But again . . . if VOA — the Voice of AMERICA — continues to attempt to play in the major leagues on breaking news, but frequently as we have seen failing spectacularly in contrast to any one of a number of organizations, it’s just . . . embarrassing, for the country, and for those who once worked in a place that could, and did, do a much better job and took pride in that.”


Voice of America late and short on Oregon shooting