BBG Watch Commentary

Voice of America Facebook Cover Photo Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.29 PM ET
Voice of America Facebook Cover Photo Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.29 PM ET

U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America news, Facebook posts and Tweets are not the only ones not being posted and updated in a timely manner. Thanks to a general lack of good management and oversight, international audiences are still getting to see as the VOA English News Facebook page cover photo a Thanksgiving turkey with the President of the United States eleven after Thanksgiving. (Still there as of 7 PM ET, Monday, December 8, 2014.) The three top posts on the VOA Facebook page show that they were posted two hours, six hours, and ten hours ago. Three Facebook posts on the main VOA Facebook page in ten hours does not seem to us like a lot of work for an organization that employs dozen of senior executives, senior advisors, senior program directors and other senior managers.

Somehow, we are not surprised by the VOA Facebook turkey long after Americans have eaten their birds and forgot about it. If it were a real turkey, it would have been truly spoiled by now and unsuitable for human consumption.

The Thanksgiving turkey photo in December may not be a capital offense. It is a relatively minor issue considering everything else that is wrong with the Voice of America, but it is not an isolated slip-up.

In early November, Voice of America Facebook and Twitter English News pages were not being updated for many hours on the day and evening of U.S. mid-term elections, VOA radio newscasts didn’t even mention the election results hours after they were available. More recently VOA English news website ignored the House of Representatives resolution on Putin’s aggression against Ukraine that even mentioned the need for more effective VOA news outreach. VOA English news website also ignored the controversy over the appointment and confirmation of U.S. ambassador to Hungary — a story that was widely reported on by U.S. and international media, including numerous reports by Russia’s RT and SPUTNIK news/propaganda outlets.

If Voice of America executives and managers cannot make sure that real news gets posted on the VOA website and social media pages in a timely manner as required by the VOA Charter, you can hardly expect them to pay attention too such things as a Thanksgiving turkey as the cover photo for the main Voice of America Facebook page twelve days after Thanksgiving.

VOA senior executives and senior managers are a real turkey, if you ask us. It is abundantly clear that they either do not read what’s on the VOA news website and VOA Facebook and VOA Twitter pages, or if they do, they can’t tell what’s wrong. They certainly have done nothing about numerous VOA management and news failures.

We have a suggestion for them.

Voice of America senior executives should immediately remove President Obama and his lovely daughters from the Voice of America Facebook page cover photo and insert their own faces next to the Thanksgiving turkey and ask for a pardon. They are an embarrassment to the taxpayer-funded news organization they are charged by the public to manage, to the President of the United States, and to their country.

According to an email sent out recently “To: VOA Administrative Staff; VOA Creative; VOA Language Services; VOA Operations Staff; English Division; TSI Headquarters Managers; VOA Newsroom,” the VOA Follies will be performed on Tuesday, December 16, at 1:00 p.m., in the VOA Briefing Room on the first floor.”

The email continues: “This annual show will once again take a humorous (we hope) look at the Agency, its staff, its managers, and its foibles, through jokes, skits, songs, and other presentations.”

“It’s a show that even Ted Lipien could love,” the email continues.

“And it’s coming right before a Board [Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)] meeting so the timing couldn’t be better. If you would like to be part of the show, and don’t mind forsaking your career, we’d love to have you, as we are always looking for new cast members. So hold off taking that use or lose AL and circle the date…because you’re invited to come on down and watch the show.”

We have another suggestion concerning VOA senior executives.

We think the talent invitation should have been extended primarily to them so that they could play themselves in what would be a true reality show. May be like the White House Thanksgiving Turkey they can get a pardon from President Obama, BBG Chairman Jeff Shell or future BBG CEO Andy Lack.

After consulting a dictionary, we think that the VOA Follies is a very appropriate term under most of the definitions listed below.

Fol·ly (fl)
n. pl. fol·lies

1. A lack of good sense, understanding, or foresight.
a. An act or instance of foolishness: regretted the follies of his youth.
b. A costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome.
3. follies (used with a sing. or pl. verb) An elaborate theatrical revue consisting of music, dance, and skits.
4. Obsolete
a. Perilously or criminally foolish action.
b. Evil; wickedness.
c. Lewdness; lasciviousness.