BBG Watch Commentary

VOA CharterIn a violation of its Charter’s requirement to provide prompt and reliable news to international audiences, Voice of America (VOA) English language news website was hours behind Voice of Russia (VOR) and Russia’s RT in reporting Sunday on President Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice’s warning to the Kremlin not to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

In another news reporting failure, VOA’s main news website did not report at all on Sunday’s phone conversation about Ukraine between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

As Secretary of State, John Kerry is an ex officio member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a bipartisan body that supervises VOA. According to VOA journalists, these news reporting failures at the Voice of America are a result of bad management and poor planning rather than any attempt to skew the news. They have asked the Broadcasting Board of Governors to make personnel changes among senior VOA officials and to reform VOA’s news reporting structure.

Eventually, a news report about Rice’s comments was posted on the Voice of America website late Sunday afternoon, but in another violation of its Charter on Monday, VOA failed to balance its previous delayed news report with a specific response to Rice’s statement from a Russian Foreign Ministry official.

The response was reported by Russia’s RT news website.

Mon, Feb 24, 2014
Source: RT News (Russia)

The Voice of America Charter (U.S. Public Law 94-350) not only requires VOA to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and … also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.” It also requires that VOA news be balanced: “VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive,” the VOA Charter says.