BBG Watch Media

David Ensor
David Ensor

The New York Times reported in an article by Ron Nixon that “David Ensor, who as director of the Voice of America has presided over significant growth in the news agency’s audience despite budget cuts, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down.”

BBG Watch notes that critics question many of the claims of VOA audience expansion by pointing out that much of it can be attributed to short reports and programs, many non-news related or self-censored, which are placed on stations in countries which may already have free media, such as Mexico, or in countries that do not allow rebroadcasts of live news. In many countries U.S. taxpayers pay for these non-news or self-censored programs to be placed on local stations. The agency in charge of VOA, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), counts these stations’ audiences as VOA’s.

With a few exceptions, VOA has had a dismal performance on the web and on social media, being vastly outdistanced not only by BBC or Russia’s RT but even by public diplomacy websites run by the U.S. State Department.

Ron Nixon reported the BBG audience claims by noting that “According to survey data prepared for the board, the Voice of America’s international radio, television and online audience has reached 172 million people a week, an increase of 49 million during Mr. Ensor’s tenure.”

The New York Times reporter, however, also focused on the criticism of Mr. Ensor as Voice of America’s top manager.

“His time at the news agency has not been without controversy. Dan Robinson, the former chief White House correspondent for the Voice of America, said its central news operation had been devastated by staffing cuts, and he and other former employees said a number of veteran correspondents had resigned or retired in frustration.
Last year, BBG Watch, a blog that is written in part by current and former Voice of America employees, obtained emails under the Freedom of Information Act showing that Mr. Ensor and a number of his subordinates had planned a skit that mocked former employees who had been critical of the agency.”


READ MORE: Director of Voice of America Is Planning to Step Down, Ron Nixon, The New York Times, April 7, 2015