22 January 2008

The VOA Charter and Why It Is Important to Our Audiences

There is no more important document guiding the work of journalists at the Voice of America than the VOA Charter. It was drafted in 1960 and signed into law on July 12, 1976 by then President Gerald Ford.

The Charter is intended to protect the integrity of all VOA programming and define the organization's mission.

It reads:

The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts:

1. VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.

2. VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

3. VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies. (Public Law 94-350)

Now, there is actually an expression that has long been used at VOA by journalists: waving the Charter in someone’s face. It is generally used when some official tries to insist on coverage by VOA of some event or to dictate how something should be reported.

All such efforts --- yes, even by U.S. government officials --- are strenuously resisted. And that’s a fact!

For example, the State Department objected when VOA interviewed Taliban leader Mullah Omar shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and demanded that none of the interview be broadcast. VOA refused to comply and excerpts of that interview were used.

We know some people out there think VOA is nothing more than a government “mouthpiece.” But as one emailer to the VOA News Blog recently wrote: “I wonder if those who use the word ‘mouthpiece’ ever actually listen?”

We invite you to listen, watch and/or read. Go to: VOANews.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With a board of governors from backgrounds as varied as the far right American Enterpirse Institute, the far right Democratic Leadership Council, an activist against the Fairness Doctrine etc. how could ANYONE claim Voice of America is just a "mouthpiece" for the government? I'm shocked, shocked that anyone would think that VOA is just another installment in the propagandizement of America's once republican media! VOA isn't a mouthpiece for the government! It's a propaganda machine for far right, capitalists and Zionists. Sheeesh! The critics should get their act together! (If you aren't, then print this coment...)