26 January 2009

Secretary of State Clinton and VOA

The subject of U.S. International Broadcasting, including VOA, came up during the recent confirmation hearings for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In response to questions from Senator Richard Lugar, Mrs. Clinton for the most part praised the performance of America's international broadcast entities.

Most important, from our perspective, she underscored a point we have often tried to make: “our international broadcast services demonstrate an essential lesson of free societies --- the requirement of an independent media for a robust democracy.”

She also underscored the need for what she termed “a strong and unambiguous fire wall between the professional journalists and editors (at VOA and other U.S. International Broadcasters)… and others in the U.S. government whether at the White House or the State Department. I recognize this to be a fundamental requirement of effective international broadcasting.”

The Secretary of State holds one of the seats on the Board of Broadcasting Governors (BBG), which oversees VOA and the other U.S.-financed broadcasters.

But Mrs. Clinton said the “most effective BBG will be one at arms length” from State and other government agencies.

Her comments come at a time when there has been much discussion about improving U.S. public diplomacy --- sometimes with proposals that would draw VOA into some new U.S. global communications strategy.

We at VOA believe, like Mrs. Clinton, that we can do our best work and serve our audiences best when we are able to operate independently.

VOA’s Journalistic Code says specifically: “VOA reporters and broadcasters must strive for accuracy and objectivity in all their work. They do not speak for the U.S. government.” The VOA Charter says, “VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society…”

VOA offers news about the United States and US government policies because the United States has global interests that no responsible news organization, American or non-American, can ignore. Our research also shows many of our audiences want to hear about American culture, life, history, youth and more.

But our emphasis will always remain on offering reliable and authoritative news. As we have said before, if our audience perceives we are more interested in pursuing a political or ideological agenda than straight reporting, we will lose our credibility --- and our audience.


laura dawson said...

Thank you for your disclosure of Secretary of State Clinton's determination to keep VOA vibrant and open. I have used VOA as a resource to help me keep abreast of Africa's changing health conditions. It is my hope that with further education and quality care, Africa's very young children and new mothers will survive these troubled times.

Gary said...

I like VOA but I would like it even more if it had more of a seperation from the US goverment. Not broadcasting editorials would be a good start and following a model which is simular to the BBC World Service that broadcasts the news without it being "soft power" as a objective.

Anonymous said...

The news saying, Hillary asks Iran not to interfere in Palestinian affairs....

This is the problem with our US government. They think they are the kings of everyone.

What makes them think they can meddle in their affairs, and what right do they have to ask another country to stop. USA is just another country.

Charles Koch said...

"VOA offers news about the United States and US government policies because the United States has global interests that no responsible news organization, American or non-American, can ignore."

Does VOA promote our global interests or just recognize them and report the truth whether or not it protects our "global interests"? In other words, does VOA put the truth first and foremost or does VOA put our "global interests" first and foremost?