BBG Watch Commentary

42 protesters have been killed, including women and children in the overnight clashes in Egypt.

A BBG Watch contributor wrote to us: “Oh, Man. Voice of America main English news website’s lead story right now (9:30 am — 42 dead in Cairo violence) is a Reuters piece. What a disgrace.”

BBG Watch has taken a look at how Al Jazeera and Russia Today have been reporting on this story and at their social media engagement as compared to VOA’s, which had 0 (zero) Facebook “Likes” as of 10:30AM Washington time.

New low for Voice of America – no original coverage of massacre in Egypt – VOA leads with Reuters news – shows 0 Facebook ‘Likes’ – Al Jazeera already has 2,500

Voice of America English news website was both late in reporting on overnight violent protests in Egypt and could not offer original news coverage by VOA reporters. Its top news item was a short Reuters report from Egypt. As of 10:30 AM Washington time, it had 0 (zero) Facebook “Likes.

The short Reuters news item appeared to have been posted late and stayed on the VOA website for quite some time. VOA later expanded the story somewhat and added a Reuters video. It still had only 1 (one) Facebook “Like” as of 11:00 AM Washington time.

Both Al Jazeera English and Russia Today English offered extensive original news coverage with videos and photos.

Al Jazeera report on the massacre in Egypt had over 2,500 Facebook “Likes” as of 10:30 AM Washington time.

Russia Today English report from Egypt had 936 Facebook “Likes.”

Article by former Voice of America (VOA) journalist Gary Thomas in Columbia Journalism Review on journalistic practices at VOA and management of U.S. international broadcasting within the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).In attacking a former Voice of America senior correspondent Gary Thomas who had published an article in Columbia Journalism Review outlining serious inadequacies in VOA news coverage, management and employee morale, Kyle King,  a spokesman for Voice of America director David Ensor, responded that “A simple look at the Voice of America’s website demonstrates we are a hard-hitting and effective international multimedia news organization. ”

Both Director Ensor, who is now believed to be on an extended summer vacation, and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) director Richard Lobo, who was recently in Europe, have been telling Congressional staffers, members of Congress and reporters that Voice of America has an outstanding social media outreach program. It was developed thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in technology projects. “Today we are reaching and engaging audiences like never before,” said Director of International Broadcasting Bureau  Richard Lobo at a recent Digital Innovation Expo hosted by IBB on Capitol Hill.

Over the weekend, Voice of America English news website had no original coverage of the South Korean plane crash in San Francisco despite the fact that it was an American-built plane that crashed in the United States with 141 Chinese passengers and other international travelers on board.

On the plane crash, VOA also first used a short Reuters news report that soon became outdated and was not updated by VOA for at least three hours. Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today provided extensive coverage of the crash with numerous photos and videos. China’s international satellite television channel, CCTV, created a special web page devoted only to the coverage of the crash. It included numerous video reports from the United States.

See: China’s CCTV coverage of San Francisco plane crash puts Voice of America to shame, BBG Watch.

Al Jazeera, BBC and Russia Today plane crash reports received thousands of Facebook “Likes.” VOA’s Reuters report received less than 10 Facebook “Likes.” VOA’s equally short report on the crash posted later also received very few “Likes.” Russia Today’s initial video report on the crash had over 30,000 YouTube views. VOA English website and YouTube page did not have any crash related videos as of Sunday evening.

We are wondering whether VOA Director Ensor and IBB Director Lobo are looking at the same social media engagement statistics we are or are they and their top deputies giving themselves their own Facebook “Likes,” which might explain their self-satisfied comments to the media, members of Congress and Congressional staffers.

The situation with Voice of America and its news reporting operations couldn’t be worse. VOA has fallen hopelessly behind Al Jazeera, the Russians and the Chinese. If the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) cannot do something — BBG lacks a quorum and its attempts to reform IBB are being strongly resisted by the IBB leadership — the Congress needs to step in as soon as possible.