05 February 2009

What VOA Covers

In today’s post, we’d like to take up what we consider the tired old shibboleth of what VOA is supposed to be about. You may have heard it in one form or another. It goes something like this: one international broadcaster claims to focus on local news inside a particular country or group of countries. Another international broadcaster, it is argued, reports on the whole world. VOA, meanwhile, is alleged to report mainly on America and U.S. policy and not much else.

What bothers us about this portrait is that it is utterly false and misleading. VOA broadcasts on local news in countries around the world --- and it reports on global developments. Yes, it reports on America and U.S. policy (like other international news organizations) but that represents just a portion of what VOA offers to its audiences.

Take a look at VOANews.com. As this is written there are five main stories headlined on the portal page of the website: two involve the U.S., one deals with Iraq, another with Sri Lanka and the last one with Israel.

Go to the main English news page and in addition to these a reader will find stories involving Britain, Iran, China, North Korea, South Africa and Libya.

Go to some of the other websites hosted by VOA and a reader will find an assortment of detailed items dealing with local news from a particular country. Consider VOA’s Persian News Network. There is a whole page on PNN’s site for Iran news (and a separate page for articles from the Iranian press).

Or look at Studio Seven, VOA’s service to Zimbabwe in English, Shona and Ndebele. Every single item on the Studio Seven site involves local news for Zimbabweans, just as if it were a local broadcaster or daily news publication.

So the next time someone says VOA is just about the United States, don’t believe it. Listen, watch or go to our websites and check it out yourself --- and tell others to do the same. We cover the world --- and we cover your country. And we cover the United States. We’re a full service news organization.

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