BBG Watch Commentary
Both Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) have posted on their websites lists of their journalistic accomplishments in 2013. Both organizations are journalistically independent, but are funded by U.S. taxpayers and overseen by the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in Washington, DC.
Often referred to as surrogate media outlets, they are by U.S. legislation required to provide free media reporting by journalists from countries where governments practice press censorship or where there are other obstacles to normal functioning of free media.
Radio Free Asia has shown its accomplishments in a short video:
RFA journalistic awards received in 2013 can be seen here.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has posted online a list of its best reports in 2013:
Exclusive Interviews And Reports From Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Iran
December 20, 2013
A roundup of original stories and exclusive interviews from throughout RFE/RL’s Services and Central Newsroom. More
- December 2013
- Ukraine’s Euromaidan, Russia’s State of the Union, Afghanistan’s Future, and more
- New Website Spotlights RFE/RL’s Women Journalists
- Traveling with the Berkut in Ukraine, Caught in the Crossfire in Iraq, Tracking Radicalized Central Asians in Syria, and more
- RFE/RL Recaps the EuroMaydan Protests
- November 2013
- RFE/RL’s Coverage of the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit
- ‘I’ll Sign Once The U.S. Meets My Demands’
- Iran’s Nuclear Deal
- Lee Harvey Oswald’s Days In Minsk
- RFE/RL’s Friday Potpourri: Elections, Drag Queens and More
- October 2013
- Radio Free Iraq Turns 15
- Murder, Riots, and Arrests: Moscow’s Restive Relationship with Migrant Communities
- RFE/RL Reports From Azerbaijan’s Election
- Radio Mashaal Interviews Malala Yousafzai
- RFE/RL Reports: Azerbaijan Heads To The Polls
- September 2013
- RFE/RL’s Iran Experts Report On President Rohani’s UN Visit
- RFE/RL’s Friday Potpourri
- Eurasian Leaders Gather at SCO Summit
- From Moscow to Damascus, The Kremlin Has Its Hands Full
- Week In Review: RFE/RL Highlights
- August 2013
- RFE/RL Reports: Government, Rebel Allies Line Up
- What Does An Independent Afghanistan Mean For Its Women?
- Outsiders, Outlanders and Just Proudly “Out”
- Five Years Later: RFE/RL Looks At The Ramifications
- A Tale of Two Presidents
- July 2013
- The Fast Climb and Possible Fall of Alexei Navalny
- RFE/RL Posts New Video by Russian Punk Collective
- RFE/RL Talks to Oliver Stone, Philip Reeker, Thomas de Waal
- June 2013
- RFE/RL Marks World Refugee Day
- Iran After the Election of Hassan Rohani
- RFE/RL’s Iranian Election Countdown
- Radio Svoboda Charts NGO Crackdown
- May 2013
- Corruption, Cronyism, Crackdowns
- Political Scheming
- RFE/RL Journalists Reflect On Media Freedom
- April 2013
- A New Détente in the Caucasus?
- Taking the Pulse of Iraq’s Democracy at the Polls
- RFE/RL’s Experts Report on Boston Marathon Bombers and Ties To North Caucasus Region
- RFE/RL’s Russia Report: What It’s Like To Be Russia’s Enemy
- March 2013
- RFE/RL Reports: The Death of Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky
- RFE/RL Profiles Five Iconic Individuals of the Iraq War
- RFE/RL’s Russia Review: Now With More Technicolor!
- On World Cyber-Censorship Day, RFE/RL Cites Success Amid Challenges
- RFE/RL Reports: 60 Years After Stalin
- February 2013
- RFE/RL Spotlight: Passions At Play In Russia’s Adoption Debate
- RFE/RL Reports: Pakistan Ignites In Religious Violence
- RFE/RL Reports: Where is Kosovo Five Years After Independence?
- RFE/RL Live Blogs Russian Meteor Hit
- Kosovo and Serbia Presidents Meet: An RFE/RL Balkans Review
- January 2013
- Covering Politics Noble, Compromising and Culinary in the Caucasus
- Taking It To The Streets – RFE/RL’s Protest Rundown
- RFE/RL Rewind: Recent Stories You Won’t Want To Miss
Both RFA and RFE/RL appear to be well-managed and doing excellent news reporting as envisioned by the U.S. Congress to help provide news, information and opinions to people in countries without free media. In 2012, there was a major management crisis at RFE/RL, which affected news reporting. But a new CEO, Kevin Klose, who took over at the request of the BBG in January 2013, initiated management reforms and has restored high journalistic standards, as seen in the quality of RFE/RL’s news reports in recent months.
However, the Voice of America (VOA), which is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, appears to be in the midst of a major management crisis that has continued for several years. VOA often fails to post and update news in a timely manner. Its executives have not produced a list of 2013 accomplishments similar to those put out by RFA and RFE/RL.
The VOA public relations website shows, however, a link to “VOA DEEP DIVE WITH DAVID ENSOR,” with the following description: “VOA Director David Ensor gave a multimedia presentation on the Voice of America to the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013.”
During the presentation, Director Ensor was sharply questioned by BBG Governor Matt Armstrong about inadequacies of VOA news coverage.
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which runs Radio and TV Marti, has not yet posted any end-of-the-year reviews in English of its 2013 journalistic accomplishments.
The Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), which runs Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa has only a very basic English-language website and also does not show any lists of recent journalistic accomplishments or awards.
Information about Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, which is posted on the BBG website, is more than a year old.
Information about Radio and TV Marti, posted on the BBG website, is also more than a year old.
Information about VOA and RFE/RL has also not been updated on the BBG website for more than a year. The BBG website is maintained by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which is also in the midst of a major management crisis. Members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors have recently announced personnel changes at IBB and promised further reforms.
But even despite these continuing management problems, which are especially acute at IBB and VOA, journalists working for all of BBG’s media entities are still capable of producing outstanding multimedia news reports.
While VOA English news service has basically collapsed under bad management at the top level of the organization, the VOA Ukrainian Service and some of the other VOA language services, are still trying to maintain high journalistic standards despite limited resources and employee-unfriendly work environment.
These journalists deserve full support and appreciation for the great work they are doing. We hope that the BBG will come to their rescue soon by aggressively expanding management reforms already initiated at IBB, and earlier at RFE/RL.