BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America has not updated its main English news homepage to reflect President Obama’s statement on Ukraine and did not post a separate new report on Obama’s remarks, as many other international media outlets did, including RT, BBC and Deutsche Welle. Voice of America English radio, however, did much better this time after earlier criticism from BBG Watch for also failing to report live on important statements and to provide live summaries.
President Obama’s statement is a lead story on Russia’s RT homepage with the following headline: “Obama threatens Russia with new sanctions over Ukraine – RT.” No such headline about President Obama making a statement about Russia and Ukraine appears anywhere on the Voice of America English News website several hours after the president’s remarks.
RT news report, devoted almost entirely to President Obama’s remarks on Ukraine, has 460 words and five sentences with quotes from his statement.
As of 7:10 PM EDT Thursday, Aug. 28, RT report on President Obama’s Ukraine statement is showing over 2,300 Facebook “Shares,” 412 Tweets and 423 readers’ comments.
VOA had only 127 words devoted to President Obama’s statement on Ukraine. As of 7:10 PM EDT, the VOA report in which President Obama’s statement was summarized in four sentences is showing only 28 Facebook “Shares,” 53 Tweets and 8 readers’ comments. Six out of the eight comments appear to be from pro-Kremlin trolls, including this one calling himself or herself Angelina Jolie from: France.
One or two silly comments or an obvious Kremlin troll comment among dozens or hundreds of other comments might be tolerable, but when VOA reports get no more than five or ten comments — and many appear to be from pro-Kremlin trolls — these comments stand out.
President Obama’s remarks on Ukraine were streamed live on the VOA website, but afterwords there has been no indication on the VOA homepage that he spoke about Ukraine and no separate news report summarizing his remarks. We could not determine how long it took VOA this time to include a few sentences about President Obama’s statement into an old VOA news report about Ukraine. On previous occasions, such updates were extremely short and were posted late by VOA. Even this time, President Obama’s statement on Ukraine was not highlighted anywhere on the VOA website after the live streaming was over.
VOA had only four sentences on Obama’s statement about Ukraine, only two quotes, and no separate report with a separate headline. These four sentences were inserted to an older news report about Ukraine.
VOA was also not updating its homepage with new information about Ukraine or checking it for accuracy earlier today.
A typo in the lead sentence in Voice of America’s lead news story, and a major news story today about deployment of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, was not corrected or updated for hours Thursday morning.
VOA did not report for many hours Thursday morning and afternoon that the UN Security Council was going to have an emergency meeting on the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine. All other major international broadcasters had this news online hours before VOA.
READ: VOA leads Russian troops in Ukraine story with a typo, fails to update, BBG Watch, August 28, 2014.
Later today, both BBC and DW had separate reports with headlines about President Obama’s statement and highlighted it on their home pages.
As of 7:00 PM EDT, there is still no mention on the Voice of America homepage of President Obama’s statement on Ukraine and still no separate report on his remarks.
VOA Radio Does Better
A report from our contributor and radio listener in the UK.
MC, UK says August 28, 2014, 4:58 pm
A positive development to report regarding VOA’s radio coverage of Presidential foreign policy statements and press conferences – specifically, of President Obama’s 28th August statement on developments in Iraq and the Russian incursion into Ukraine.
I listened to most of the President’s address on VOA’s Worldwide English service on the radio on 28th August, and although I didn’t tune in right from the start, when I did join VOA from around 20.10GMT, VOA was carrying the President’s statement live (so I think it’s fair to assume VOA carried it right from the beginning).
VOA broadcast the 28th August Presidential address right to the end, and also all of the subsequent Q&A session with reporters. VOA only ended its coverage and went back to regularly scheduled programmes when the press conference had completely ended and President Obama had left the room.
And before VOA re-joined the scheduled programme in progress at 20.40GMT, a VOA broadcaster summarised again the key points of the President’s statement – to be honest, something I hadn’t expected to hear tonight as VOA didn’t have any news programming scheduled at this hour, so really good to hear a live VOA broadcaster’s voice. This was how VOA English-language radio covered Presidential press conferences so effectively from the 1980s through to the 2000′s.
This was a positive contrast with VOA’s recent broadcast of President Obama’s address to African business leaders, when VOA switched back to the start of a regularly-scheduled music programme at the top of the hour (co-incidentally, “The African Beat”, which was pre-empted tonight), before the President had finished speaking. And also a positive contrast with some recent Presidential addresses before that, which VOA radio had not carried live at all.
BBG Watch has reported that VOA executives have instructed VOA’s English radio to broadcast Presidential statements on foreign policy in their entirety – tonight it was good to hear that VOA radio did exactly that, including broadcasting all of the Q&A session with reporters – always a great example of American democracy in action, and electrifying radio to listen to for anyone with an interest in foreign policy. Also an example of the type of event that radio is absolutely perfect for providing coverage of.
So although, as you are reporting, the VOA website is (as usual) behind on coverage of developments in Ukraine, at least VOA radio has performed better tonight than usual. Credit to BBG Watch and CUSIB for a good result, and let’s hope this type of more effective VOA radio coverage of important foreign policy statements continues in future.
And this comment from Newsroom Observer:
As UK MC notes, yes VOA has for some months now been doing what it should
long ago have been doing, considering the intense competition from other news
organizations, carrying video streams of major events, be it the president or other
But think about this — why in the world did top officials, including the
VOA director, not do what was done just recently, namely order that
major statements of the president be carried live, breaking into programming
underway, and that live program hosts engage in summarizing the content?
It’s absolutely mind-boggling. VOA, which at one point in the 1990′s, was on
the leading edge of getting news content on to the Internet, only just recently
realized it was basically being murdered in terms of live coverage on its web
Good enough for government! And this also has to be said — this is a reflection
also of the lack of attention paid to the shameful mismanagement under the BBG,
BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ITSELF.
President Obama eventually dealt with problems at his Department of Health and
Human Services, and the Veterans Administration, and through his first term, and
in other federal agencies.
But the BBG, which spends $700 million in taxpayer money every year, gets a
Something is wrong here…