BBG Watch Commentary

“The Voice of America is not a propaganda organization and is not a mouthpiece of the White House or anybody else.” – VOA Director David Ensor

VOA Director David Ensor
VOA Director David Ensor

The Voice of America Director David Ensor has perfected the art of management through granting interviews. He gives good television interviews.

It’s his management of the Voice of America and its staff of many experienced and talented reporters that worries supporters of VOA’s important mission of providing news and information to people aboard who may not have access to free media.

David Ensor has kept the mangement team that has been at war with VOA’s senior correspondents and language services. He has done nothing to reform the organization, critics say.

The VOA English news reporting and website are an organizational disaster. VOA gets beaten in social media outreach and online audience engagement by Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today. In Facebook “Likes” for top news stories, these competitors get hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands to barely a few for VOA.

As the Voice of America news operation implodes and management crisis deepens at the U.S. taxpayer-supported international media outlet that often fails to post timely original news reports on its main website, VOA Director David Ensor gave an interview to The Huntington Post blogger Nicholas Kralev for his “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” a weekly program on diplomacy and global affairs. Kralev is a former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent.

Ensor told Kralev that “its (VOA) reporters don’t enjoy great access to high-ranking U.S. officials.”

Why not?, we might ask. What’s wrong with having good access to important news sources? But then VOA often fails to provide comprehensive reports on major news events, even those happening in Washington.

Watch VOA Director David Ensor in this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev.”

Read more: VOA Is ‘Not a Mouthpiece of the White House,’ Director Says (VIDEO), Nicholas Kralev, The Huffington Post, September 18, 2013.

It’s not enough to know how to give television interviews to manage a multimedia news organization like the Voice of America.

One must manage.

Yesterday, the Voice of America English website instead of using its own White House reporter or other Washington-based VOA reporters posted instead a short Reuters report without video on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff calling off plans for a state visit to Washington in October because of revelations that the United States spied on her personal communications and those of other Brazilians.

As of last night, the Reuters report on the VOA website had 0 (zero) Facebook “Likes.” This morning the Reuters report used by VOA had 1 (one) Facebook “Like.” It had less than ten Tweets, 0 (zero) Google+ and 0 (zero) comments.

Russia Today English website had a longer report, “Brazilian president postpones visit to Washington over US spying,” with video and original reporting. As of this morning it had over 4,000 Facebook “Likes,” 516 Tweets, 116 Google+ and 66 comments.

VOA Reuters on Brazil President US Visit
VOA report from Reuters has only 1 (one) Facebook Like after more than 12 hours.
Russia Today on Brazil President US Visit
Russia Today report has over 4,000 Facebook Likes.

The BBC report on the same topic, “Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff calls off US trip,” was also much longer than the Reuters story on the VOA website and included video of White House spokesman Jay Carney.

BBC Brazil President US Visit Report

The BBC report on the Brazilian President’s canceled visit to Washington showed Wednesday night 2,480 Facebook “Likes” and 957 Tweets.

We repeat that the Reuters report on the same topic showed on the VOA English website 2 (two) Facebook “Likes” and 7 (seven) Tweets, also on Wednesday night, more than 24 hours after it had been posted.

How long can VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch pretend that there is nothing wrong?

How long will VOA provide substandard news coverage even for major events involving the United States and happening in Washington?