Kim's Recent Essays...
US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation.
In International Broadcasting, Even the Static Must be Credible.
America Calling China: A Strategy for International Broadcasting.
"Harder-edged news" is good, but if it has an "opposition feel," then it may not really be news. RFE/RL will have to decide if it wants to be a better news service than Russians can get domestically, or an "opposition media" service. If the latter, the Russians can probably do it themselves, at no cost to the US taxpayers.
Putin has intensified his control of and restrictions on Russian media, but as long as there is a modicum of independent journalism left in Russia, Russians will generally turn to it rather than foreign sources. The foreign news organization with the best chance in Russia (and largest comScore numbers) is the BBC, because, in contrast to US international broadcasting, the BBC's resources are concentrated in one organization, and the BBC has more of a reputation for independence and credibility.
Newsmax, 10 Jan 2013, Todd Beamon and John Bachman: “'This is not just a question of soft power,' O’Sullivan ... tells Newsmax. 'It’s not just a question of cutting back on soft power. It’s a question of whether or not the kind of journalism that is ... subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer is going to be journalism that makes a difference in Russia — or whether it’s going to be journalism that the Kremlin will be quite happy with,' O’Sullivan said. 'Any amount of soft social stories, they can live with.'" With video interview.
Forbes, 9 Jan 2013, Mark Adomanis: "With the benefit of hindsight and distance, it seems obvious to me that this whole kerfuffle is not about democracy, autocracy, liberty, or anything nearly that elevated or important, it’s about a bunch of people who are angry because their jerk boss fired them and who want their jobs back. Like I said in my original piece, I find it perfectly plausible, perhaps even likely, that Masha Gessen is a terrible editor who is very unpleasant to work for. And having seen people be unceremoniously canned, I understand that it’s not very fun (though I confess to finding it terribly funny that a right-winger like O’Sullivan would suggest that employers have anything other than complete discretion in selecting their employees)."
UPI, 4 Jan 2013: "Russian listeners of American-financed Radio Liberty say they are disappointed the station, which had been on-air since 1953, is no longer available. ... Radio Liberty will still be available online via partnerships with a few other independent sites, including TV Rain, an online television channel, said Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen. 'It's extremely easy to shut off access to a single Web site,' Gessen said. 'We need to have a lot of alternative ways to get our content out.'"
Voice of Russia, 6 Jan 2013, Natalya Kovalenko: "President of Radio Liberty Steve Korn and the head of the Moscow office Masha Gessen are convinced that [Radio Liberty] needs change badly. Russian journalist and public figure Alexey Chadayev is speaking: 'Frankly speaking, with the Echo of Moscow and the Russian News Service, Radio Liberty did not stand out on the air at all. As for the contents, they are rather an old-fashioned propaganda radio. Their only chance of survival on today’s market is to provide better quality contents.'"
BBG Watch, 10 Jan 2013, quoting "a former high BBG official, who ... spoke off the record": "Does [Masha Gessen] maintain a security clearance? Has she compromised it? If she does not have a clearance—-why not? Can she be trusted with confidential or classified information? There may be a breach here."
I can understand that a present employee of USIB might want to write anonymously, although an anonymous essay has only a fraction of the impact as one that is signed. But why would a former official have to write without identification? This seems to be taking caution to a ridiculous extreme. Anyway, it was good of BBG Watch to provide the complete record of a statement by this former high BBG official who spoke "off the record."
Assuming it really is a former high BBG official who made the statement, it's remarkable that he/she asks why Masha Gessen does not have clearance. Could it have something to do that she is now supposed to be a journalist in charge of what is supposed to be a news organization? If this is how high BBG officials think about news (note that the new BBG mission statement does not even have the word "news" in it), then BBG Watch may have unwittingly identified what ails US international broadcasting.
Bloomberg Businessweek, 4 Jan 2013, Bryan Bradley: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s opposition to Russia’s growing economic might in Europe wasn’t practical, Vydas Gedvilas, the head of Lithuania’s new parliament, said in an interview with Russian radio. The international influence of Russian businesses is an economic reality that European countries must separate from politics and deal with pragmatically, Gedvilas, whose Labor Party joined a coalition government after October elections, said on Radio Svoboda yesterday." -- Radio Svoboda is probably pleased to be referred to as "Russian radio," but it is, of course, the Russian serice of US-funded RFE/RL.