Heritage Foundation's idea of VOA Persian housecleaning: sweep credibility out the door.

Posted: 08 May 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 5 May 2011, Helle Dale: "VOA Broadcasting to Iran: A Long-Overdue Housecleaning. At a standing-room-only meeting Wednesday, the leadership of Voice of America (VOA) announced major changes in the way the Persian News Network of VOA goes about the business of reporting the news to Iranians. It’s about time. ... According to sources, the structure will be changed from the current system of English-language executive producers paired with a Persian-language editor for each show. Instead the network will have just two executive editors, who will also double up as editors of the shows. Whether this streamlining makes sense will certainly depend on whether the individuals in charge have the right language skills and understanding of the needs of the audience they are serving. The new leadership also needs to have respect for the mission of VOA, which includes not just broadcasting the news but also promoting democracy—a function derided and downplayed by the previous leadership."

Let's review the Broadcasting Board of Governors' mission for US international broadcasting: "To promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas." This means providing the accurate information people need to develop and participate in democracy. It does not mean juxtaposing news and promotion. The latter would subtract from the credibility of the former.

Most audiences for international broadcasting seek out international broadcasts when their state-controlled media are as bad as VOA would be if it were reformed according to the vision of Helle Dale. Those state-controlled media mix news and promotion all the time.