BBG Watch Commentary

Reuters on VOA Website Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 6.13PM EDTIt appears that in the current state of mismanagement, Voice of America (VOA) journalists, Vice President Biden, members of U.S. Congress and scores of U.S. experts do not have much to comment on the inauguration of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and the future of his presidency and his country.

The Voice of America English news website posted a commentary on Poroshenko from UK-based news agency Reuters. There was only one sentence reference to the U.S. in the entire Reuters article. There was no mention of Biden’s visit to Kyiv. Didn’t he just return to the U.S. from his trip. There was nothing that VOA could have said about the U.S. and Ukraine after his trip? Really, Mr. Ensor and Mr. Redisch? (VOA Director, VOA Executive Editor)

Why bother? And why should international audiences bother to go to the Voice of America website to learn what Reuters writers think of Poroshenko? If they go to the VOA website — which is more and more unlikely due to major news reporting failures by VOA — they go there to learn what U.S. officials, experts, and ordinary Americans think about international affairs.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which like VOA is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), posted its commentary on Poroshenko by its staff journalist Robert Coalson, but the RFE/RL analysis does not focus much on U.S. views. Coalson quoted, however, Masha Lipman of the Moscow Carnegie Center who regularly writes for American media. It would have been cheaper and better for VOA to have posted Coalson’s analysis rather than Reuters, but what VOA should have done was to offer its own.

VOA posted the Reuters commentary on Poroshenko at 10:54 AM EDT Sunday. By 6:15 PM EDT Sunday, the Reuters article on the VOA website had only 1 (one) Facebook “Recommend” and zero (0) comments.

BBC posted a post-inauguration analysis by David Stern, BBC News correspondent in Kyiv.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) posted an analysis by Roman Goncharenko of DW’s Russian service.

All Voice of America English News could offer today in terms of news analysis after the inauguration of President Poroshenko was a commentary from Reuters, even though Vice President Biden and members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives attended the inauguration and numerous American experts have commented on it.

Saturday, VOA English News video and audio reports from Kyiv did not even mention that Vice President Biden and a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation were attending the inauguration ceremony. VOA English News video report did not show Vice President Biden or his walk on the streets of Kyiv with Senator John McCain being greeted by Ukrainians shouting “Than you America.” The video report did not mention them at all.

VOA News barely covered their visit with only a few sentences in a text report that did not even have a headline referring to Biden. It also did not give any significant details of announcements of U.S. aid to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova made during his visit to Ukraine. Both Russia’s RT and Voice of Russia had more information on U.S. aid to Ukraine than VOA English News, but of course presented it with an anti-U.S. spin.

Ironically, Voice of America Director David Ensor was at that time on a European trip and reportedly was going to Kyiv. Yet, he, his deputy Steve Redisch and other senior VOA executives have made no arrangements for adequate VOA news coverage of Biden’s and congressional visit to Kyiv or for any post-inauguration analysis presenting American perspectives on President Poroshenko and Ukraine’s future.

David Ensor constantly complains that VOA does not have adequate funding, but there was enough money for him to go to Europe — not enough to send an experienced VOA staff correspondent and Eurasia specialist to Kyiv on Biden’s plane.

What VOA does lack most of all is good management. Without it, VOA’s international audiences will be getting commentaries from Reuters — a UK-based news agency that has no reason to focus on presenting American views and perspectives. It did not in the commentary posted today by VOA.

U.S. news reporting, presenting and explaining U.S. policies and reporting both support for and criticism of these policies is the job of the Voice of America under its congressional Charter. This legally-binding document is ignored by VOA’s senior management and has become a main victim of chronic mismanagement.