BBG Watch Commentary

Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson

Former Voice of America senior correspondent Gary Thomas has commented on the departure from VOA of White House correspondent Dan Robinson.

Before leaving VOA on Friday, Robinson sent a letter to members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in which he outlined many of the news reporting and management failures referred to in Gary Thomas’s comments. Robinson also alluded to intimidation and threats from a senior official directed against him. Other VOA journalists have complained to BBG Watch of having to work in a hostile environment.

Former BBG members, Ambassador Victor Ashe and Blanquita Cullum, expressed dismay that an outstanding reporter like Dan Robinson felt compelled to leave Voice of America under these circumstances.

Link to Dan Robinson’s Facebook page.

Gary Thomas also found himself a target of an attack on his professional reputation by an agency manager when he published a critical article about Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau in Columbia Journalism Review.

Link to Robinson’s Letter to BBG members.

GARY THOMAS: It is indeed sad to see Dan depart. Like Dan, I left with a distinct aftertaste of bitterness about what has been done to eviscerate the once-proud, vibrant organization into a hollow-eyed hulk of its former self. Platform has been elevated over process.

As Dan correctly notes, true journalism – thoughtful, incisive, and timely – is disappearing at VOA, only to be replaced by cobbled-together wire reports. Precious human resources are routed away from news coverage and misdirected into time-intensive, stale video packages.

VOA has become a soulless place to work. Humor and good cheer are in short supply. Management is organizing “game nights” for employees in its laughable bid to boost rock-bottom morale (which, as Executive Editor Redisch once pointed out, is the employee’s responsibility).

But the real, deleterious games are being played on the third floor. Is it any wonder that Dan decided it was time to go?

In its misguided bid to chase the equivalent of ratings management has driven a stake through the heart of VOA. I fear it will not recover without a massive transfusion of new blood at the top levels of the agency.