BBG Watch Guest Commentary

BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from a current Voice of America journalist who prefers to remain anonymous.

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We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.


Not a Lot of News Judgment at

By A Voice of America Journalist

The VOA website — and Central News — buried alive one of the biggest news stories of the last few days.

Look at the homepage and scroll down, down, down, down. Keep going.

There, at the very bottom, under Economy and Business, you’ll find a bland headline over a Reuters story: “U.N: Climate Change Fight Affordable.”

“Affordable”? Is that what the U.N. said? Like a new fridge is “affordable?” Wow. How exciting. That and the bottom-of-the-page placement under Economy and Business really gives you a sense this story matters.

When in fact, the U.N. report says the climate prospect is more desperate than ever previously reported, and urgently in need of international action.

The New York Times has a better headline: “U.N. Panel Issues Its Starkest Warning Yet on Global Warming.”

The Times reports that if countries don’t cut emissions sharply immediately, the world can look forward to:

“Food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.”

“Affordability” is the least of the issues it poses. That’s like running a headline over a Boko Haram story: “Nigerian Officials: Saving The Girls Affordable.”

So, where are the VOA central-news editors who feel so safe reporting the same stories over and over — and who have hyped the Ebola story to the limit?

Hundreds of millions of members of VOA audiences will be in desperate straits in the not distant future, according to the U.N., if governments don’t act now to cut emissions. That seems like a message that needs to go out to VOA audiences with a hint of urgency — at the top of the page. With a serious headline, not one whipped up in the Central news “blander.”

It’s not a business story. It’s an international-news story about a situation that threatens the world with environmental, social and economic collapse.

But for VOA central news managers, who scarcely glance at their own website much less read and respond to it at least once a day (as should be a requirement for all Central news managers at a GS-13 and above level), real “news,” as opposed to the same-old, same-old, is just a by-product of the real mission: to keep those oversized paychecks coming.