BBG Watch Commentary
Mismanaged U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) and Russia’s propaganda propaganda outlet RT have something in common: their English news homepages are showing no reports, headlines, photos or videos of major anti-Putin and anti-war demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg (as of 1:00 PM EDT, Sunday, September 21, 2014 – 9:00 PM Moscow time). Voice of America English news service buried the Moscow protest story in a few sentences in the middle of a Reuters report from Kyiv. There was no headline or a photo of the anti-Putin protests on the main VOA English news homepage.
UPDATE: At 4:43 PM EDT Sunday or 12:43 AM Monday, Moscow time, VOA finally posted a short Reuters news report (9 sentences and 10 photos apparently also from Reuters) — not VOA’s own report; VOA English new service does not seem to have a correspondent in Moscow at this time or the person is on leave or assignment elsewhere — on the protest in Moscow. A protest headline link to the Reuters story also appeared at about the same time, for the first time for this news story, on the VOA English news homepage. It was already the next day, Monday, in Moscow. All other major international broadcasters, except Russia’s RT, have already had this story on their homepages for many hours on Sunday.
VOA English news service could have used RFE/RL Russian service or VOA Russian service correspondents in Moscow to produce its own report for VOA in English or to use theirs in translation, but it failed to do that. Presumably, there were very few people working in the VOA English newsroom on Sunday.
Many other international media outlets, including BBC, Deutsche Welle (DW) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) have had the Moscow anti-war demonstration as one of their top news stories on their English language news website homepages for many hours. Russia’s RT did not. Neither did Russia’s RIA NOVOSTI on its homepage. New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal websites also did not have anything on the Moscow anti-war protests on their homepages (as of 1:00 PM EDT, Sunday, September 21, 2014 – 9:00 PM Moscow time), but all three are primarily U.S. newspapers — not multimedia, multilingual international media outlets like VOA, BBC, DW, or RFE/RL.
BBC Homepage Top News: Ukraine crisis: Thousands march in Moscow anti-war rally
Deutsche Welle (DW) Homepage Top News: Anti-war protesters march through Moscow
RFE/RL Homepage Top News: Live Blog: Russians March for Peace
RFE/RL, which like VOA is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) reported that “thousands have gathered for antiwar demonstrations against Russia’s role in violence in eastern Ukraine in Russia’s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Aleksandr Ryklin of the opposition Solidarnost movement said the slogan for the peace marches is “Putin, enough lying and making war!”
RFE/RL Russian Service was providing a live stream of the events.
VOA English news website did not have its own report from Russia, but it posted a Reuteurs news report from Kyiv on the cease-fire in Ukraine. In the middle of the Reuters report one can find a mention of the anti-Kremlin demonstration in Moscow (five sentences).
But Voice of America English news service has not provided its own report from Moscow or a separate report with a headline on its homepage or VOA Europe News page (as of 1:00 PM EDT – 9:00 PM Moscow time Sunday).
The management has decimated the VOA English newsroom in the last few years while expanding the bureaucracy. Hardly any journalists work in the VOA newsroom on weekends and after business hours. The VOA newsroom looks deserted and dark even in the middle of the day on weekdays, but executive offices are full of executives and staffers, some of them former VOA journalists.
The Voice America Ukrainian Service posted on its homepage a link to Radio Liberty report on the protests in Moscow and in St. Petersburg against Russian military invasion of eastern Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea.
The VOA Russian Service, however, did have its own report on the demonstration from Moscow (16 sentences) and placed it as a lead story on its homepage. But the vast majority of other VOA language services had nothing on their websites about the anti-Putin and anti-war demonstrations, not only in Moscow but also in St. Petersburg. Management reforms at the Voice of America are urgently needed.