In the wake of the election crisis in Iran, VOA and especially its Persian News Network were visited by many news organizations wanting to report on how we were covering events in Iran and what our sources were telling us about developments there. These news organizations included national and international media, including Al-Jazeera, ABC, NBC, the Washington Post and others. They were able to speak freely with our anchors, editors and managers.
Because we are a news organization and rely on the cooperation of sources when we want to cover and report stories, we are conscious of the need to be open and receptive when other journalists are interested in us.
So this week, when someone claiming to represent Danish TV called to set up a visit with a camera crew, VOA’s public affairs team arranged the appointment, escorted them into our Washington headquarters building, and allowed them to film and conduct interviews.
Only as their visit neared an end did we learn that this was not in fact Danish TV (as in Denmark’s well-known state-owned broadcaster) but an independent television production company that identifies itself as Danish. And they were not reporting on behalf of Danish TV but for Iran’s state-sponsored and Tehran-based Press TV, which is billed as “the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis.”
Now, let us be clear, although VOA is regularly denounced by Iranian officials and our reporters are unable to get visas to go there to report on events like the recent presidential election, we at VOA would be more than willing to allow Press TV to come and report. (We’d love Iran to reciprocate and let our journalists into Iran, but that is not nor will it ever be a precondition.)
What we do ask is that people be honest and not misrepresent themselves. That is no way to do business. Not in real journalism, which is, after all, all about transparency.