BBG Watch Commentary

Over the last several years, U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) strayed far away from its Charter in quality of its news reporting. While a few good journalists remained and continued to put out excellent material from time to time, many experienced VOA reporters had retired or left frustrated by the inept management.

There is still no sign of any major turnaround at the Voice of America. Such a turnaround would require a structural reform that only new good legislation can offer. But we have noticed that since Kelu Chao took over as acting director after the departure of former director and reassignment of his deputy, there have been some minor improvements in the quality of VOA news content. This still insufficient trend became even more apparent after the coming on board of new Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO and Director John Lansing.

The agency still has a long way to go. These positive changes can be easily reversed if Kelu or Lansing leave, as there are no institutional basis for promoting programming excellence. Only legislative reform could achieve that by taking resources from the BBG’s bloated bureaucracy. Some of those who have made the agency “nearly defunct,” and are responsible for low employee morale are still seen at BBG board meetings.

But even during the worst period in VOA’s history under the Broadcasting Board of Governors — which has not ended by any means — some outstanding VOA journalists and some services tried to stay true to the VOA Charter.

We highly recommend this Voice of America news report by Nike Ching. It’s a great improvement compared to some of the previous VOA English News reporting on this topic.

Minsk Deal Legitimizes Ugly Facts on the Ground, Critics Say, Nike Ching, VOA, March 2, 2016.