BBG Watch Commentary

After being late and behind Russia’s RT, Al Jazeera, BBC, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL and Deutsche Welle (DW) in reporting on the assassination in Moscow of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, the Voice of America (VOA) English news website has now expanded its coverage and is doing a somewhat better job.

The initial VOA News report, which was late compared to other major international media outlets, had only 194 words (BBC had 478; RT 418; Al Jazeera 24).

READ: Voice of America late with Boris Nemtsov murder story, beat by RT, BBC, DW, Al Jazeera, RFE/RL, BBG Watch, February 27, 2015

The VOA News report was updated at 7:41 PM ET and now has 604 words.

VOA added to this report a statement from President Obama on the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.

However, President Obama’s statement on such a major news event definitely deserved a separate headline and a separate report from the Voice of America. It did not get it on the VOA English news website, but the VOA Russian Service did post a separate news story on President Obama’s statement.

It also surprising that VOA’s main English news website has no other U.S. reactions to the murder. There are U.S. reaction stories on the VOA English US News page, not even on the White House statement since no separate news report was issued.

VOA English news website has not reported on the reaction of former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, but Russia’s RT website did. VOA Russian Service did as well.

VOA English news also has not yet reported on the reaction of Republican Senator John McCain and reactions of several other prominent American statesmen.

The VOA Charter requires the Voice of America to report on all segments of U.S. political life.

BBG Watch reported that the VOA Russian Service was both faster and more comprehensive in reporting on the Nemtsov murder than the VOA central English newsroom.

Eventually, VOA English newsroom added two Russian reactions to its initial report:

Russian Opposition Leader Murdered in Moscow | VOA News

Speaking with VOA by phone from his home in Cambridge, England, Vladimir Bukovsky, a famous Soviet dissident and personal friend of Boris Nemtsov, said, “I suspect it’s a state murder.”
Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov gave an exclusive statement to VOA Russian reporter Danila Galperovich.
“It will never be forgiven … It is a premeditated, carefully planned assassination. It is shocking. That is how it has ended up in our country,” said Kasyanov. “An opposition leader has been killed in the heart of Moscow, near the Kremlin wall. It is unbelievable. We will do everything we can to hold those bastards accountable. We will continue our work and our fight to make Russia free and democratic country”.

Russian Opposition Leader Murdered in Moscow | VOA News

BBC now has two reports, a text report with photos and a video report by Sarah Rainsford with a short text posted on the website. The BBC video has 2 minutes 18 seconds and its text reports have the total of 636 words.

RFE/RL report has 831 words as of 8:30 PM ET.

Russia’s RT has two reports:

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow | RT and

Opposition figure killed in Moscow LIVE UPDATES | RT

Both RT reports now total 1747 words and include numerous photos and tweets.

In terms of audience engagement on this story through social media, the Voice of America has been left leagues behind RT.

As of 8:55 PM ET, the VOA English news report on the Nemtsov murder has: 24 Facebook “Likes/Shares,” 34 Tweets, and 3 comments.

As of 8:55 PM ET, RT’s first report has: 3,300 Facebook “Likes/Shares,” 2,500 Tweets and 2,690 comments.

As of 8:55 PM ET, RFE/RL English report has over 1,700 Facebook “Likes/Shares” and 393 Tweets. The report is not open for comments.

As of 9:00 PM ET, VOA Russian Service report has: 110 Facebook “Likes/Shares,” 35 Tweets and 53 comments.

As of 9:00 PM ET, RFE/RL Russian Service blog report has 1,300 Facebook “Likes/Shares,” 17 Tweets and 38 comments. RFE/RL Russian Service Live Video has 451 viewers in the middle of the night in Moscow. Another RFE/RL report shows 185 Facebook “Likes/Shares,” 39 Tweets and 30 comments.

BBC Russian Service does not show social media statistics on its website.