BBG Watch Commentary

Voice of America English News fails to provide fast, accurate, comprehensive and balanced news reporting from Ukraine.


The Voice of America (VOA) Ukrainian Service offered extensive and accurate coverage of the bipartisan U.S. congressional visit to Ukraine over the weekend. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) language services also provided excellent coverage of the visit made by Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. Both VOA and RFE/RL report to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

VOA English News, however, was many hours late and superficial in reporting on the trip of U.S. senators to Ukraine.

The VOA English website was many hours late behind other media in reporting that the visit was going to take place. Then all day Saturday, VOA English News was reporting erroneously that Senator McCain was to arrive in Kyiv on Sunday while he was in fact already in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday holding numerous meetings that were being covered widely on the Internet by other media and recored with photos on Senator McCain’s Twitter account.

Many VOA language services — including the Russian Service, but not the Ukrainian Service — repeated the mistake made by VOA English News, while Russian and other international media, including RT and Voice of Russia, were reporting extensively Saturday on McCain’s meetings in Kyiv.

VOA English News also never reported on McCain’s and Murphy’s Sunday meeting with President Yanukovych, even though the Voice of America Charter requires it to offer not only accurate but also balanced news. VOA English News had reported earlier, albeit many hours late, on the senator’s meetings with Ukrainian opposition figures. Requirements of updating news, as well as requirements of balance and fairness were not met.

The vast majority of VOA foreign language services also have not reported on the meeting of U.S. senators with President Yanukovych. The problem was multiplied throughout VOA’s 40-plus language services.

VOA’s mistake in reporting the wrong day for Senator McCain’s visit to Kyiv may have resulted partly from using and misinterpreting a news report from Reuters. VOA under its current management increasingly relies on Reuters instead of providing its own original news coverage.

VOA English News eventually corrected its mistake in one of its news stories of getting the date wrong on McCain’s visit, but without offering any explanation or apology. The Reuters report with the wrong day for McCain’s arrival in Kyiv is still on the VOA English website without a correction.

RT (Russia Today), the Voice of Russia (VOR), The Wall Street Journal and other international and U.S. media reported on the meeting the two U.S. senators had Sunday with President Yanukovych. The meeting was also reported on the official website of the President of Ukraine. As of 4:30PM ET Monday, about 24 hours after the meeting, there is no report on it on the Voice of America English website.

It is not the case that VOA journalists can’t report news. VOA English News correspondent was in Kyiv. The problem is a complete meltdown of the VOA news reporting system caused by incompetent senior managers who refuse to listen to rank and file employees and rule by intimidation, inside sources tell BBG Watch. The system for posting and updating news online has disintegrated several years ago.

VOA journalists blame VOA executives for poor management and for destroying VOA’s ability to report news in a timely, accurate and balanced manner. Critics say that it is a miracle that in such a dysfunctional environment created in recent years by VOA executives and senior managers of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the VOA Ukrainian Service has been able to mobilize its own very limited resources to offer excellent coverage from Ukraine so far. It is not clear, however, how long the service can continue this effort in a defunct organization, critics say.


16.12.2013 00:15

Press office of President Viktor Yanukovych

President met with Senators of U.S. Congress

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych has held a meeting with United States Senator, member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations John McCain and United States Senator, Chairman of the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Cristopher Murphy.

In the course of the meeting, the parties have discussed a wide range of issues of Ukrainian foreign policy. The President has once again emphasized the invariability of the European integration course of Ukraine and the faithfulness to national interests of the state. Viktor Yanukovych has assured that the government made everything possible to ensure the rights of citizens to peaceful demonstrations and hold fair and transparent investigation of the events that had taken place at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv on November 30, 2013. The parties have agreed to continue their dialogue.