BBG Watch Commentary
International online audiences went to Russia Today, BBC, and Al Jazeera rather than the Voice of America (VOA) to follow latest news reports on the shooting incident at the Los Angeles International Airport. The VOA news on its English-language website was posted late, had only 147 words, did not include any video, and was not being updated while other international media were providing new details from officials.
Al Jazeera, BBC, and Russia Today had the LAX shooting as one of their three top news items. It was news item number seven on the VOA English website, even though VOA editors should have known that families of many international passengers traveling to Los Angeles today would be extremely concerned about what was happening at the airport, not to mention any possible terrorist motive behind the shooting.
The VOA news item, 2 Wounded in Los Angeles Airport Shooting, showed only 8 Facebook “Likes,” 13 Tweets, 0 Google+ and no comments as of 4:25PM ET.
At the same time, BBC and Russia Today were already reporting, quoting officials, that one person has died and seven people were wounded, one critically, during a shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport.
As of 4:25PM ET, VOA was not reporting in any detail on a press conference late Friday morning, when officials confirmed that they had taken into custody a suspect believed to be responsible for a rampage that started earlier that day at around 9:20 a.m. local time.
By then, Russia Today, BBC and Al Jazeera had already reported on the press conference and provided other information missing from the short VOA news item. Russia Today also posted a video from LAX.
While VOA kept its outdated text news story on its website, Russia Today was already reporting that a TSA officer was killed.
Russia Today also showed multiple photos and Tweets. Its news report, TSA officer killed, at least 7 injured in shooting at LA airport, had over 1,800 Facebook “Likes,” 1,399 Tweets, 52 Google+, and over 50 comments as of 4:25PM ET. By 5:45PM ET, the Russia Today report had over 2,000 Facebook “Likes.”
The Russia Today story had 928 words including the text in Tweets posted within the report.
BBC had a 374-word news report with three videos, One person killed in Los Angeles airport shooting, which showed 1,683 Facebook “Likes” and 2,590 Tweets.
The Al Jazeera report, One killed in Los Angeles airport shooting, was not as up to date as those from BBC and Russia Today, but it was updated with the information about one dead victim and included other details that the VOA report did not have. The Al Jazeera report got 275 Facebook “Likes,” 161 Tweets and 17 comments as of 4:25PM ET.
Eventually, at approximately 5PM ET, the headline on the VOA English website was changed to, One Killed, Several Wounded in LA Airport Shooting, but even the updated VOA news item still had only 196 words and very few details.
About 30 minutes later, the VOA headline was changed again to “Situation Under Control After LA Airport Shooting.”
By then, the VOA story had 237 words, but still showed only 11 Facebook “Likes,” 13 Tweets, 0 Google+ and 0 comments from readers. By then, Russia Today had over 2,000 Facebook “Likes,” 1,470 Tweets, 57 Google+ and 56 comments.
When a South Korean airliner crashed during landing at the San Francisco airport last summer, the Voice of America did not report in any detail on the story for at least three days despite the fact that many Koreans, Chinese and other foreign passengers were onboard, while China’s CCTV, BBC, and Russia Today provided extensive online coverage of the crash.
READ: When a plane crashes in US, web audiences abroad go to Al Jazeera, BBC, Russia Today – not Voice of America, BBG Watch, July 7, 2013.
By 6:30PM ET, VOA English website completely dropped the Los Angeles airport shooting story from among its top six news items. It was not even VOA’s top US story, which was “Former Defense Secretary to Lead Boy Scouts.”
By then, BBC had the LAX shooting as its second top story and listed two additional shooting-related reports at the top of its homepage. The main BBC report already had at 6:30PM ET 2,307 Facebook “Likes” and 2,841 Tweets. The VOA report had 12 Facebook “Likes” and 14 Tweets. The BBC report gained several hundred Facebook “Likes” in about 90 minutes; the VOA report gained four (4). By 11PM ET it was still BBC’s second top story.
The LA airport shooting was still the top news story on the Russia Today website as of 7PM ET and the second top story on the Al Jazeera website. At 7PM ET, it was also number one news story on the CNN and CNN International websites. One had to look hard to find it on the VOA English news homepage.
Whether the news is good (President Obama meets Malala; Sharon Stone honored by Nobel laureates for AIDS work), or bad (SF plane crash; LAX shooting), or when the Dalai Lama and Lech Walesa appeal for Liu Xiaobo’s freedom — one cannot count on VOA to report on a news story promptly, fully and objectively.
One could ask VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch, what is happing with VOA news and what is VOA’s top management doing?
We know one thing. Under their leadership, Voice of America international audiences got five separate news reports on the royal christening in Great Britain in two days and a Reuters report on finishing schools in Switzerland while a number of human rights and other political news stories went unreported.