"Radio Gessen" cannot do the job of VOA, and VOA cannot do the job of "Radio Gessen."

Posted: 26 Feb 2013   Print   Send a link
American Security Project, Flashpoint Blog, 6 Feb 2013, Lívia Pontes Fialho "RFE/RL has consistently come under attack from past Soviet and Russian governments. Focusing most of its broadcast online may not be the best idea, since its digital platform could be susceptible to attacks, which would have been much harder to carry out over the air-waves. In this process, the firing of journalists by the radio’s management has been met with protest and hurt the station’s credibility. The attempt to regain relevance is legitimate but doing so, using online tools, without taking into account the effects on a well-regarded brand and on the actual audience may backfire instead."

BBG Watch, 22 Feb 2013: "At the end of today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open meeting in Washington, D.C., Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), made a short statement as a member of the public, in which she praised the BBG for addressing the Radio Liberty crisis in Russia, welcomed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty new acting president Kevin Klose and called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty Russian Service journalists. ... 'In response to the GAO Report, CUSIB remains determined to defend surrogate broadcasters and the VOA at the same time. Both were clearly designed by Congress for very good reasons. Surrogate broadcasters have a special role to play as an alternative to suppressed internal media and they can’t do the job of the Voice of America. By the same token, Congress created surrogate broadcasters because VOA has a different role. CUSIB strongly believes that we need them both.'" See also video of the BBG meeting.

Alhurra is obviously in violation of the CUSIB's vision of US international broadcasting. As described in a previous post, Alhurra "provides context and analysis to give viewers a broader understanding of the actions impacting the region [and] also provides the comprehensive coverage from the United States drawing on dedicated correspondents at the White House, State Department, Congress, and Pentagon." Because Alhurra is doing both jobs when, according to CUSIB, it can only do one job, then Alhurra should be split into two channels, one reporting on the target region, and the other reporting on the United States and the rest of the world. Audiences would have to tune to two US channels to get all the news. Audiences will not put up with such inconvenience, and will tune elsewhere, but a boondoggle is a boondoggle. And what about VOA's reporting about Africa broadcast to Africa? Doesn't VOA realize it can't do that job?

BBG Watch, 24 Feb 2013: "Even though they are not the official Radio Liberty, Radio Liberty in Exile was the first to post on the web materials marking the station’s 60th anniversary. Many in Russia see fired journalists who last September formed Radio Liberty in Exile as the real Radio Liberty upholding the traditions of the station and refer derisively to the official Radio Liberty as 'Radio Gessen.' Since October 2012, Masha Gessen has been the controversial new director of the Radio Liberty Russian Service, which is now being boycotted by many Russian opposition leaders, intellectuals, artists and journalists. Radio Liberty in Exile is planning a major event in Moscow on March 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of the first Radio Liberty Russian broadcast to the Soviet Union. It is expected to bring together many former and current Radio Liberty personalities, other independent Russian journalists, intellectuals, human rights activists and anti-Putin politicians." -- "Independent Russian journalists" and "anti-Putin politicians" perhaps do not comfortably co-exist in the same sentence.

Cold War Radios, 26 Feb 2013, Richard H. Cummings: "60 Years Ago, Radio 'Liberation' began broadcasting. On March 1, 1953, the radio station that become known as Radio Liberty began broadcasting from Lampertheim, West Germany." With history of Radio Liberty.

New York Times, 11 Feb 2013, Masha Gessen: "Moscow’s media community was shaken by the news that yet another media outlet was closing: openspace.ru, a political analysis Web site, had been shut down summarily by its owner. The editor in chief said he believed the reason was politics. The owner declined journalists’ requests for interviews, but some in the know wrote on their blogs that there was nothing political about the decision: The owner had just grown tired of financing a losing venture. The logic of these posts, which generally came from those on the opposition side of Russia’s political spectrum, was much the same as [the Russian government viewpoint]: A media outlet is a business like any other, and its proprietor is free to do with it as he or she pleases. This point of view, uninformed by any of the 20th century’s debates about the relationship between private ownership and profit-seeking on the one hand and the media’s role as a public resource on the other, is not unique to Russia. But here, where private business is under constant government pressure, it seems particularly shortsighted."