BBG Watch Commentary
During the night of December 10/December 11 in Washington, which was already daytime in Europe, the Voice of America English news website was not updating its reporting from Ukraine.
The VOA website was still reporting that Ukrainian riot police was moving against protesters in central Kyiv.
Meanwhile, BBC and other news media were reporting for hours that Kyiv riot police has retreated after storming protest bastions.
There was also nothing on the VOA English website homepage on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement on the police action in Ukraine. Excerpts from the State Department statement were included in the outdated VOA report, which could only be found by going inside the website to its “Europe” section.
Secretary Kerry said: “The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity.”
A site visitor could only learn that Secretary Kerry made this statement on Ukraine, not from the VOA English homepage, but by searching inside the website. Since there was no separate news item on the statement, a site visitor would have to read all the recent VOA news reports on Ukraine to find out about it.
The outdated VOA report was showing 30 Facebook “Likes” as of 8AM Wednesday. The BBC report, which was up-to-date and posted much later than the VOA report, was showing 3,506 Facebook “Likes.”
Russia Today was also reporting that the police “stopped at a certain moment, having pushed rally participants closer to the heart of the protest, Maidan’s stage.” The Russia Today report showed over 1,100 Facebook “Likes.”
Only the Voice of America (VOA) English news website kept suggesting erroneously that the police action in Kyiv was still continuing.
Earlier, the Voice of America English website failed to report on a phone call Monday from Vice President Biden to Ukrainian President Yanukovych. BBC, Russia Today, and the Voice of Russia reported on the Biden-Yanukovych phone call.
VOA reporters accuse VOA executives of failing to plan for the coverage of events in Ukraine. Unlike BBC and many other major news organizations, VOA English News does not have a correspondent in Kyiv, although one may finally be traveling to Ukraine. The VOA Ukrainian Service, on the other hand, has been providing outstanding news coverage despite its limited resources.
BBG Watch has learned that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the Voice of America, is planning moves to reform news reporting and management at VOA.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release December 10, 2013
Statement by Secretary Kerry
Statement on Events in Ukraine
The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.
Last week in Brussels and Moldova, I underscored publicly the importance of all sides avoiding violence and called on President Yanukovych to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. We put the government on notice about our concern.
As Vice President Biden made clear to President Yanukovych during their phone call yesterday, respect for democratic principles, including freedom of assembly, is fundamental to the United States’ approach to Ukraine. This is a universal value not just an American one. For weeks, we have called on President Yanukovych and his government to listen to the voices of his people who want peace, justice and a European future. Instead, Ukraine’s leaders appear tonight to have made a very different choice.
We call for utmost restraint. Human life must be protected. Ukrainian authorities bear full responsibility for the security of the Ukrainian people.
As church bells ring tonight amidst the smoke in the streets of Kyiv, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. They deserve better.