Global Media Analyst

Iran English RadioOne of the English language news websites of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting,, sometimes posts U.S. news that will not be found on the U.S. Voice of America (VOA) English website, or will be posted many hours later on the infrequently updated and poorly managed VOA site.

VOA has long ago fallen hopelessly behind such international media giants as BBC and RT (Russia Today) in reporting U.S. news, but today (January 9) even the less active and less popular of Iran’s English language news sites — Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service — posted more U.S. news in English than VOA site — 11 for IRIB versus 9 for VOA.

Press TV, Iran’s external English TV and website, posted today even more U.S. news reports in English than VOA English website. Press TV had at least 17 new news reports in its U.S. news section on January 9. Iran’s Press TV almost always beats VOA English News in the number of U.S. news posted online on any given day.

This news report on Press TV, Most US lawmakers are millionaires: Report, Press TV, has no equivalent report on the VOA English website today, even though most major U.S. media — including NYT, WP, CNN — have already reported on this story today many hours ago.

(VOA English website is so poorly designed and managed that not all U.S. news are posted in VOA’s “USA NEWS” section, which makes getting accurate count difficult. It also makes it difficult for VOA site visitors to find U.S. news.)


For comparison, RT (Russia Today) posted today on its English website at least 16 original full-text U.S. news reports. Like Iran’s Press TV, Russia’s RT almost always beats VOA in the number of U.S. news stories posted on any given day.


Many of Press TV news reports, and particularly its commentaries, have a strong element of anti-U.S. bias. In that respect Press TV is similar to RT (Russia Today), which also has a mix of straightforward news reports, somewhat biased news reports, and frequently strongly anti-American commentaries.

Most U.S. news reports on the IRIB Iran English Radio site today were, however, straightforward, without any significant bias. Most were not much different from news reports found on Reuters or AP. Many were adapted Press TV reports. There does not appear to be much difference in terms of news topics between the two Iranian English websites for external audiences. Press TV is more aggressively anti-American.

All Iran English Radio reports today were rather short (shorter than Press TV news reports and slightly shorter than most, also short, VOA reports, but not by much) and well-written in English. Some appear to be re-written versions of Western wire service reports or came from other U.S. sources.

Only two U.S. news items on the IRIB Iran English Radio site today presented mostly opinions rather than facts — one quoted a former American diplomat and another quoted an international lawyer. Only one Iran English Radio U.S. news story today showed a strong anti-Israel bias.

While international audiences can get English language news from American media outlets other than VOA, these sources do not try to counter specific propaganda claims from countries like Iran, Russia, and China, or explain American policies and society the way VOA English service used to do in the past.

VOA no longer reports on many news stories which media outlets of these countries report for external audiences and score propaganda points. As it is the case with Press TV website, a number of U.S. news posted today on the IRBI Iran English Radio website, have not been reported at all by VOA.

One IRBI Iran English Radio report, based on Reuters, “56 US Senators have backed Iran sanctions bill, IRIB,” should have appeared on the VOA site, but did not.

Reuters had a similar report, “Senate majority support Iran sanctions bill opposed by Obama, Reuters,” posted at 2:43 PM ET.

As of 8:30 PM ET, the Voice of America English website had nothing on this news story.

Another news report posted today on Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service website, “US Senator Rand Paul plans to repeal Iraq war law,” also has no equivalent report on the Voice of America English news website.

Another Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service news report, “24 charged with sex-trafficking in US, IRIB,” also does not have an equivalent report on the VOA English news website.

Reuters posted a report on the story, “San Diego-based gang ran prostitutes across U.S., prosecutors say, Reuters,” at 1:53 PM ET.


As an aside, it is somewhat surprising that RT (Russia Today) did not immediately pick up the U.S. sex trafficking story, but RT, as well as BBC and many other major U.S. and international media outlets, were busy today reporting on the Governor Christie political scandal story, which VOA failed to post on its homepage for many hours.

VOA English news website failed completely today on the Christi story. Iran English Radio did not have the Christie story on its website, but Press TV did many hours before it showed up on the VOA English website. It was a lead story for BBC for many hours before it appeared on VOA site. RT (Russia Today) had its first report on it more than 24 hours before the first VOA English report appeared.


Another U.S. news story not found on the VOA English website but reported by Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service is “Poll: Record Americans ‘independent’, IRIB.” According to IRIB Iran English Radio, a new Gallup poll found that a record 42% of Americans identify themselves as independents in 2013, up from the 40% in 2012. This news was reported yesterday and today by U.S. and international media, but not on the VOA English website. Gallup posted its research results online yesterday.

IRIB Iran English Radio reported that Republican identification in the United States is the lowest in at least 25 years.

On Friday, Jan. 10, Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service posted yet another report on the same U.S. news story: Americans ‘disgusted’ with both parties, IRIB, Jan. 10.

As of early morning Friday Tehran time, IRIB Iran English Radio website has seven new U.S. news reports, including these: US Gen.: No plans to leave Afghanistan, IRIB, Jan. 10, and 8 million jobs still missing in America, IRIB, Jan. 10, which points out that “if people who have dropped temporarily out of the labor force were still looking for jobs, the real US unemployment rate would be 10.3 percent, not 7 percent.”

But the Iranian radio site had no new U.S. news reports on January 8. It had three on January 7 and four on January 6. The Iranian radio site does not consistently beat VOA in the number of U.S. news stories — as BBC and RT always do — but it sometimes has U.S. news reports VOA does not, and often offers interesting news analysis. Iran’s Press TV English website, however, almost always has more U.S. news reports than VOA English website.


RT (Russia Today) also had this story.

“Record number of Americans now identify as politically independent,” RT


Another interesting news report found on Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service website is about comments from Edward Peck, former US chief of mission in Iraq, who is reported saying in an interview with Iran’s Press TV that “‘US won’t send troops to Iraq’, IRIB.”

The VOA English website did offer one report today with a comprehensive explanation of official U.S. positions on Iraq, as well as a Republican point of view, “White House Underscores Commitment to Iraq Amid Criticism, VOA.”

In one case, both Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service and the Voice of America English website had essentially similar reports on the possibility of the U.S. joining Iran-EU talks in Geneva, but IRIB had it much earlier than VOA.

“‘US may join Iran, EU talks in Geneva’,” IRIB.

“US, EU to Meet with Iran on Implementing Nuclear Deal,” VOA.`

Overall, Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service has posted 11 US news items today on its website. The VOA English news website had only nine new news reports posted today in its “USA NEWS” section. Iran’s Press TV had 17 new news reports on its website. Iran was well ahead of the Voice of America in the number of English language news reports, as well as in the scope of the news covered. Many legitimate U.S. news stories never appeared on the VOA English website, or for that matter, on the VOA Persian language website, but were reported at least in English by Iran.

The following Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service report from today, “US to spend $1 trillion on nuclear arms, IRIB,” which is attributed to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), does not have an equivalent report on the VOA English website.

As an aside, RT (Russia Today) also surprisingly did not pick up on this report.

VOA could have reported this news and provided some explanation and perspective on U.S. military spending. It did not. Even when VOA reports such news, it rarely tries to offer additional news analysis from outside experts. Most VOA news reports are short. VOA often uses Reuters reports rather than provide original reporting with a focus on U.S. perspectives and opinions.

Another Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service report posted today is more of a commentary among otherwise rather straight news reporting by IRIB radio on this day, “‘New anti-Iran bill aims to end N-talks’, IRIB.” It quotes from a Press TV interview with on Tuesday with Frankin Lamb, identified as an international lawyer. He is quoted as saying that U.S. senators who are “essentially paid and bought agents” of Israel attempt to “finish” and “torpedo” the nuclear talks between Iran and the Sextet – the US, Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany.

The final Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service report today, which also has no equivalent on the VOA English website, deals with excepted departures of President Obama’s top aides, “Obama braces for staff exodus, IRIB.”

Social Media – Iran v. VOA

None of these reports on the Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service show any Facebook “Likes,” Tweets or comments from readers, but most Voice of America U.S. English news posted today show zero (0) and (7) Facebook “Likes” and only one comment.

VOA English news site is not doing much better in terms of audience engagement through social media the Iranian news site. RT and BBC usually get hundreds and often thousands of Facebook “Likes” for their U.S. news reports.

Iran English Radio – Press TV English Websites Worth Checking

IRIB – English Radio Facebook page has only 1,731 followers (VOA English has 507,000, RT has 1,200,000). It is not regularly updated, but neither are VOA Facebook websites, both English and Farsi, sometimes for many hours.

While Iran English Radio – IRIB World Service does not have many Facebook followers, Press TV, which is a 24-hour English language news organization, also with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has nearly twice as many Facebook followers (one million) as VOA English. Press TV English Facebook page is more regularly updated, far more frequently than the VOA English Facebook page.

For updates, it is better to visit IRIB Iran English Radio website and Press TV English website.

The most read Press TV news commentary, with over 600 Facebook “Likes” by early afternoon January 10, Tehran time, is “US police declare ’emergency’ martial law, Press TV.” The commentary by Gordon Duff, identified elsewhere as a former member of the U.S. military, is designed to create a strong impression that the U.S. is sliding toward becoming a police state.


A search of Iran’s Press TV website showed that it had apparently no reports on the British royal wedding in 2011 and the British royal baby christening in 2013. The VOA English website posted more than 30 separate news reports on these two events. Press TV does not appear to waste time and money on fluff journalism. But when VOA Director David Ensor was asked by a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Matt Armstrong why VOA is doing such a poor job in covering breaking news stories, Ensor’s response was that despite its over $200 million budget, VOA does not have enough resources.


According to an Iranian source cited in a Wikipedia article, the annual budget of Press TV in 2009 was 250 billion rials (more than US$8.3 million). VOA budget in FY2012 was $207.4 million. Press TV is available via satellite and over the Internet, but it is difficult to watch in Iran, where satellite dishes are forbidden.

VOA has 43 different language services, but VOA does not operate a 24-hour English language television news channel with round-the-clock news bulletins as Press TV does. It is also apparent that Press TV offers more U.S. news and U.S. news commentary on its English website than the VOA English website. Press TV is also much better in posting and updating the news, both on its website and its Facebook page, with twice as many Facebook followers than the VOA English Facebook page.

And this report with video, FBI fears US militants returning from Syria, Press TV, posted Friday in English on Iran’s Press TV website, also has no equivalent report on the VOA English website even though it concerns a high level U.S. government official, FBI Director James Comey, speaking in Washington on Thursday.

Press TV Screen Shot
Press TV Screen Shot

Iran’s Press TV reported:

The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has said he is worried that Americans going to Syria to fight against the Syrian government would be radicalized after returning to the US.

“People, including Americans, can go to Syria and learn about dangerous techniques, and it’s easy to get in and get out,” James Comey told reporters on Thursday during a question-and-answer session.

“My concern is that people can go to Syria, develop new relationships, learn new techniques and become far more dangerous, and then flow back” to the US, he added.

According to The New York Times, at least 70 Americans have either gone to Syria or tried to go there in order to fight alongside insurgents against the Syrian government.

Again, there is nothing on this news story on the Voice of America English website.

Also worth reading: Press TV profile on USC Center on Public Diplomacy Wikipedia.