BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary

U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO John F. Lansing is leaving his post in a scandal-ridden federal agency shortly after his hand-picked former USAGM chief strategic advisor and right-hand man pled guilty to federal charges of stealing from the U.S. government. John Lansing was apparently unaware of the crimes of one of his closest deputies. He was also apparently initially unaware of many other scandals which rocked his agency, especially at the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio and TV Marti. He ignored many early warnings and refused to have anything to do with those who tried to advise him about problems, many of which appeared under his watch. USAGM remained under his watch the federal agency with one of the lowest rankings in employee morale. His departure is good news for USAGM and its mission. Lansing is reported to be going to NPR. Poor NPR.


Statement from the USAGM Board Chairman regarding CEO Lansing

After four years serving as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), John F. Lansing will be leaving USAGM—an independent federal agency providing accurate, objective, and professional news and information worldwide—at the end of this month to start the next chapter of his career as the President and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR).

John joined USAGM at a pivotal time in the history of U.S. international media. He provided the vision and collaborative spirit needed to drive growth and innovation during some of the most trying times for global press freedom. The Board is very grateful for, and deeply impressed by, the results achieved during his tenure, including:

  • USAGM’s dramatic audience increase to 345 million people weekly and the high level of trust they have in USAGM’s programming;
  • Shift to a digital-first content creation and enhancements to the agency’s internet freedom efforts, resulting in notable online audience growth;
  • Advancement of a global language-based content strategy, rather than a country-based strategy, to reach key audiences and diaspora communities in Russian with Current Time, Persian with VOA 365, and in the coming months, Mandarin;
  • Establishment of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), made up of USAGM’s five network heads and the CEO, to break apart silos and work collaboratively as force multiplier; and
  • Honoring brave journalists by dedicating a memorial wall to the fallen and launching the USAGM Employee Association to support slain and injured journalists and their families.

John has put USAGM on solid footing to advance our mission to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. Our networks’ game-changing news and information programming, shared across one of the widest media distribution portfolios in the world, resonates with policy makers, stakeholders, other media outlets, and most important, our audience.

It is the Board’s top priority to find the best individual to run USAGM upon John’s departure, and we will update you on next steps. In the meantime, I would like to say how much I have enjoyed working with John and how I value his vision, commitment, and enthusiasm. I know that my colleagues on the Board and across USAGM share that sentiment. We offer heartfelt thanks to John for his transformative leadership and wish him all the best.