The Voice of America is a different kind of animal.

Posted: 28 Nov 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 13 Nov 2012, Voice of America director David Ensor as interviewed by Tom Fox: "Our staff hails from countries all around the world. It’s a bit like the United Nations. Generally, people tend to share two passions. One is about this country, which so many of them have adopted as their new home. The other is the desire to provide people in the lands of their birth with accurate and balanced information, something that’s quite often in short supply. What they seek from VOA management is a sense that we understand and support what they’re doing, and some strategic guidance from time to time on how to reach audiences better."

Broadcasting Board of Governors Budget and Strategy Committee meeting, 15 Nov 2012, Bruce Sherman, BBG director of strategy and development, discussing VOA broadcasts to Latin America: "I would just add that the mission of the Voice of America, as we talked about during the closed session before, is representing America and presenting and discussing US policy is, in addition to the news, a good part of what The Washington Bureau program effort accomplishes for VOA in places like Peru, and Colombia, and Mexico, all across the region. And the fact that in these even advanced media markets in places like Mexico, we're able to secure affiliations, suggests that we're adding value. That even with the competition VOA today is able to find a very productive niche that generates not only mission fulfillment but actual audiences that we can count."

So, from no less than BBG senior staff, this public reminder (goodness knows what they said during the closed session) that VOA is the duckbill platypus of international broadcasting. VOA is a news-providing mammal and a US-policy-presenting bird. Do Latin American stations rebroadcast The Washington Bureau because of the mammal or because of the bird? How is the audience for this program supposed to know when it is getting the mammal and when it is getting the bird? Compare, regarding content and audience numbers, with CNN en Español and BBC Mundo, two examples of a less ambiguous class of international broadcasting animal.