BBG Watch Commentary

VOA News Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 7.24PM EDTWhile Voice of America (VOA) English News devoted only two sentences to the White House announcement late Friday afternoon that President Obama will meet with President-elect of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw at the 25th anniversary celebrations marking the end of communist rule in Poland, it posted Sunday a news report on a small private jet crash in the United States.

READ: Voice of America gives Obama – Poroshenko meeting announcement two sentences, BBG Watch, June 1, 2014.

While Voice of America also fails to broadcast live via radio President Obama’s major foreign policy address and gets beaten by BBC on the resignation of Eric Shinseki, head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, someone in the VOA Newsroom apparently thought it was important to get VOA “on the board” with this story, which appeared on the VOA website early Sunday evening, but was first on the wires and out in other media reports more than 16 hours before.

A small private jet crash got a separate VOA news report with its own headline, while the White House press briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and his announcement that President Obama will meet with President-elect of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw at the 25th anniversary celebrations marking the end of communist rule in Poland did not. The Obama – Poroshenko meeting got only two short sentences from VOA News and Ben Rhodes’ extensive background press briefing went unreported by VOA.

Meanwhile, VOA’s international audiences were treated Sunday evening by VOA to this report (not a long one, posted hours late, yet still offering more information than VOA had offered earlier about the NSC White House press briefing on President Obama’s trip to Europe and his planned meeting with Ukraine’s president-elect):

US Plane Crash Kills 7, Including Newspaper Co-owner

VOA News

June 01, 2014 6:04 PM [Emphasis added]

All seven people aboard a private business jet have been killed in a late-night crash [Emphasis added] in the United States, including the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.

Authorities said the plane crashed in a ball of fire late Saturday as it took off from an airfield outside the northeastern city of Boston, Massachusetts. There was no immediate explanation for the accident, but U.S. authorities are investigating.

Among those killed was Lewis Katz, a 72-year-old businessman. Katz, along with a co-investor, last week bought controlling interest in the Philadelphia newspaper for $88 million.

Katz made his fortune investing in a parking empire and a cable sports television network in New York. He is a former owner of professional basketball and hockey teams in the U.S.

“Boggles the mind — they can’t broadcast Obama live via radio, or compete with BBC on Shinseki, but having someone do a 16 hour old story, on a Sunday, rises to the level of criticality,” one former VOA news reporter commented.

We’re not saying that a private jet crash should not have been reported by VOA as a brief U.S. news item (in that case, it should have been reported hours ago), but VOA senior executives need to get their news reporting priorities straight.

A small plane crash in the U.S. is not as important for international audiences and for VOA’s mission as defined in the VOA Charter as a White House press briefing by a senior U.S. official and the announcement of President Obama’s upcoming meeting with Ukraine’s president-elect.

It’s also important to keep in mind that VOA Newsroom’s failure to adequately cover the White House press briefing Friday resulted in inadequate reporting or no reporting at all by VOA’s more than 40 foreign language services.