BBG Watch Commentary
“Still greatly respected in many former Soviet republics, Radio Liberty is also admired in Russia. Rebuilding it as a model of journalistic freedom would much serve U.S. interests there.” Gregory Feifer
“Radio Liberty’s reputation has been seriously damaged during the past year — less by obstruction from hostile governments than by the station’s own leadership,” wrote Gregory Feifer in The Moscow Times in an op-ed article. Feifer was senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from 2009 to 2011. His new book “Russians” will be published in June.
Feifer describes in his article how the outgoing RFE/RL president Steven Korn has destroyed Radio Liberty’s Russian Service by firing its best journalists:
“In 2011, Steven Korn was appointed president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty partly to help shepherd a merger with other U.S. international broadcasting networks whose budgets were also shrinking. He used the pressing need to build the radio’s competitiveness in the global media marketplace as justification to do the opposite by firing some of Radio Liberty’s most qualified journalists.”
Feifer wrote in his Moscow Times article that Korn also damaged RFE/RL’s central news gathering operation. To justify its existence, RFE/RL must raise newsroom standards by appointing experienced journalists, Feifer advised.
“Therefore Radio Liberty’s new president must be not only a media veteran who knows those needs but also someone who understands the radio’s potential and problems. That’s essential for navigating the old internal politics that have helped bring it so low.”
READ MORE: Rebuilding Radio Liberty, Gregory Feifer, The Moscow Times, January 13, 2013.