BBG Watch Commentary

Screen Shot from Prague Freedom Foundation VideoShortly after we posted our previous story on a sad state of management, direction, journalistic standards and production values at the Voice of America (VOA) in recent years, BBG Watch received an email with a link to a Prague Freedom Foundation video which praised the work of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists. RFE/RL is based in Prague, but has bureaus and reporters throughout Eurasia, including Ukraine and Russia

In this excellently-produced video, former Central European dissidents and RFE/RL journalists talk about the importance of defending freedom of expression. The video features former Czech Ambassador Petr Kolar who comments how easy it is for people to lose their freedom, dissident and journalist Jan Urban, Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellows: Franak Viacorka and Natalya Sedletska, PFF Advisory Board member Pavel Fischer, former U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, Bruce Jacobs, Managing Editor for Multimedia, RFE/RL, and Olena Kagui, PFF Scholar. Ambassador Volker points out in the video that according to Freedom House reports, freedom is on the decline in many countries around the world in recent years.

Watching this video made us hopeful that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the work of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, can also reform Voice of America, which has a somewhat different but equally important mission. BBG, RFE/RL, and VOA are funded by U.S. taxpayers who have an enormous stake in the success of their journalistic missions. These institutions help to make the world and the United States a more free and a more secure place to live for millions of people.

With the crisis over Russia’s annexation of Crimea producing new attacks on media freedom and threatening peace in Europe, organizations such as Prague Freedom Foundation can play a critical role in supporting the work of independent journalists.

In the United States, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – can take some credit for prompting the BBG to initiate in 2013 management reforms at RFE/RL, which quickly restored and strengthened its effectiveness and reputation in the region. We understand that CUSIB is now strongly urging BBG members to initiate similar management reforms at the Voice of America.

RFE/RL’s Bruce Jacobs correctly pointed out that independent free media is an essential part of any democratic society. Both RFE/RL and VOA have an important role to pay in today’s unstable and dangerous world.

The Prague Freedom Foundation (“PFF”) is a nonpartisan, non-profit initiative. Its primary purpose is to protect and promote freedom through education and journalism, specifically by supporting free speech and pure journalism in the United States, the Czech Republic and other parts of the world.

Watch this truly excellent and inspiring Prague Freedom Foundation video.

Link to video on YouTube.

Link to Prague Freedom Foundation website.