BBG Watch Media
More than 17 hours after a U.S. diplomat was arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo in a raid that also targeted journalists and pro-democracy activists, U.S. government funded Voice of America is still not showing any news report or mention of the arrest as of 10:45 AM ET, Monday, March 16, 2015, on its main VOA English News website. This is one of many such news reporting failures at the poorly managed and severely understaffed VOA Central Newsroom, especially on weekends. Senior Voice of America executives are blamed for undermining VOA news gathering and reporting capabilities.
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa has had a Facebook post for more than two hours identifying the detained diplomat as USAID Democracy, Rights, and Governance Director, Kevin Sturr. The Voice of America, like everybody else, has access to Facebook, or VOA could have called the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. VOA Central Newsroom is reportedly largely empty after business hours in Washington and practically deserted at night on weekends.
U.S. EMBASSY KINSHASA: “USAID Democracy, Rights, and Governance Director, Kevin Sturr, was detained by Congolese authorities along with a number of journalists and other participants attending a press conference in Masina on Sunday, March 15. While we have not yet been officially informed as to why he was detained, Mr. Sturr was attending a press conference about a civil society event that brought Congolese youth together with several youth activists from the continent to exchange ideas about the importance of civic engagement in the political process. The press conference was to be followed by a music concert.
This event, sponsored in part by the U.S. government, is one of many activities the U.S. government supports that involve youth and civil society as part of our broader commitment to encourage a range of voices to be heard. These well-known, well-regarded, non-partisan youth groups as well as the organizers of the weekend’s events intended to promote Congolese youth participation in the political process and encourage young people to express their views about issues of concern to them. DRC government officials and ruling coalition parties were invited to and some were present during the event.”
According to numerous U.S. and international media reports, a government spokesman accused the group of posing a threat to stability. Media reports also say that the U.S. diplomat Kevin Sturr was subsequently released, but journalists and pro-democracy activists remain in jail.
VOA Africa News Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.47 AM ET