BBG Watch Commentary

Russia Today's online report on the Million Mask March shows over 26,000 Facebook Likes.
Russia Today’s online report on the Million Mask March shows over 26,000 Facebook Likes.

Russia Today and the Voice of Russia offered extensive coverage of worldwide Million Mask March rallies organized Tuesday by the Anonymous movement and got over 26,000 Facebook “Likes” for one of its many news reports. BBC reported objectively on the demonstration in London and protests worldwide in two reports, but the Voice of America (VOA) English news website completely ignored yesterday’s protests, including protests by several hundred masked demonstrators in front of the White House and other landmarks in Washington, DC.

Yesterday’s Anonymous Million Mask March rallies were not nearly as large as some organizers predicted, but BBC did cover the demonstration in London, in which thousands participated, getting over 2,400 Facebook “Likes” for its online report, “Bonfire Night protests in London by Anonymous movement,” by Wednesday afternoon. BBC reported that “activists also took to the streets in Washington, Philadelphia, Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, Warsaw and Beirut.” BBC also posted a short video report “Guy Fawkes protest in central London on Bonfire Night.”

Russia Today posted numerous and detailed reports on Anonymous rallies, as did the Voice of Russia, clearly making these demonstrations look much larger to their audiences than they actually were. But this kind of coverage is a special niche of these Russian media outlets.

Russia Today’s slogan is “Question More.” These Russian state-funded international media outlets also post frequent reports on Edward Snowden and NSA spying, and other similar news stories, particularly those that make the United States look bad.

But not all Russia Today and Voice of Russia news reports are biased. Some are remarkably balanced and professionally presented, most are comprehensive, and nearly all in the case of Russia Today, but less for Voice of Russia, show strong audience engagement through social media.

Russia Today had over 26,000 Facebook “Likes” for its “LIVE UPDATES” on the Million Mask March.

Million Mask March: LIVE UPDATES, Russia Today – over 26,000 Facebook “Likes” – 6,554 Tweets as of 3:30PM ET, Wednesday, November 6, 2013.

‘We are legion!’ Anonymous allies stand up against corruption in global march, Russia Today – 9,300 Facebook “Likes.”

‘The Corrupt Fear Us!’ Massive Anonymous ‘Million Mask March’ as it happened (PHOTOS), Russia Today – 551 Facebook “Likes.”

We get more people ‘activated’ – Anonymous activist, Russia Today – 282 Facebook “Likes.”

Million Mask March: biggest ever rally arranged by Anonymous allies, Voice of Russia – 21 Facebook “Likes”

Million Mask March kicking off in Washington DC, Voice of Russia – 379 Facebook “Likes.”

Citizen’s Action for re-election of US govt’ – Andrew Kreig to comment LIVE, Russia Today – 1,100 Facebook “Likes”

We are not suggesting that the Voice of America should have offered the same coverage of yesterday’s Million Mask March rallies worldwide as Russia Today. But, of course, the VOA English website should have had a news story. It definitely should have covered the protests in Washington, DC. It should have done what BBC did in covering the demonstration in London and reporting briefly on other demonstrations worldwide. Instead, VOA conceded the whole story to Russia Today, Voice of Russia and other international media outlets.

We noted strong international interest in Anonymous protests and prime time coverage on national television networks in many foreign countries. Euronews showed video from Washington, DC. U.S. media covered the protests as well. The Washington Post‘s Switch blog on technology and policy covered the protest and reported that the police arrested some of the demonstrators in Washington. “Protesters at the Million Mask March in Washington, D.C., were upset about a lot of things,” Andrea Peterson. Washington PostTV had video. The Wall Street Journal blog also had a report, as did NBC News. The Los Angeles Times posted a short report on protests in Los Angeles.

It is not clear whether the Voice of America made a conscious decision not to cover yesterday’s Anonymous protests. As BBG Watch reported, VOA’s news operation and general management are in such a disarray that it was not even able to post timely updates on its homepage on Tuesday’s U.S. election results or offer any kind of comprehensive breaking news coverage on this story. It was, however, top news for BBC, which offered live online updates and had its U.S. election reports posted prominently on its homepage.

Anonymous Million Mask March is perhaps not the most important news story ignored by VOA. There have been many others, which we think are even more important.

If VOA could post five news reports in two days on the royal christening in Great Britain, a report on finishing schools in Switzerland, and more recently a report titled “Thousands Attend Atlanta Zombie Convention,” it could have also updated its homepage yesterday with fresh and live online U.S. election coverage and posted at least one report on Anonymous movement protests in Washington.

VOA Zombie Convention Report

The report on the Zombie Convention is not bad per se as a curious piece of Americana. Every news organization needs some of these stories from time to time, and this was one of the better ones on the VOA website. But there may have been perhaps other news stories VOA could have also covered or covered better. We see a complete lack of editorial leadership and planning.

READ: BBC beats VOA hands down on U.S. elections coverage, BBG Watch, November 5, 2013.

The zombies report, posted yesterday (November 5), is showing 20 Facebook “Likes,” 7 Tweets, 0 (zero) Google+, and 0 (zero) readers’ comments as of late afternoon ET Wednesday, November 6, 2013.