05 October 2010

Ignoring The Facts: A Dangerous Habit

To continue a theme from last week, (but in a more serious vein than UFO’s and aliens,) I am increasingly distressed by the number of writers, reporters, analysts and/or commentators who simply choose to ignore the facts and disseminate inaccurate information, and then use that erroneous information to make a point.

The latest example to catch my attention involves VOA.

A blogger named Javad Rad, writing on the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy blog, claimed the reason President Obama recently chose to give an interview to BBC Persian TV and not to VOA’s Persian News Network was audience size.

Rad wrote: “Obviously VOA has not been able to reach a sizable audience inside Iran.”

Obviously? Hardly. This is simply untrue – and begs the question of whether Mr. Rad conducted any research whatsoever before writing.

Because it wasn’t particularly difficult to ascertain that:

According to a BBC news release earlier this year, “BBC Persian has an estimated 3.1 million viewers in Iran.”

And drawing on survey data compiled by InterMedia, VOA researchers estimate the VOA TV audience in Iran to be around 9 million. Even if this audience were only half as big as that estimate, it would still be higher than BBC 's own published estimate for their audience.

Any chance of a correction, Mr. Rad?


Anonymous said...

Thanks to Mr. Belida, and to the BBG public affairs office, for putting what they call the facts on record about PNN versus BBC audience in Iran.

But the original topic had to do with the question of why the Obama White House granted BBC Persian an interview with President Obama instead of PNN, right?

In an initial comment on this subject, Kim Andrew Elliott, writing in his blog on U.S. international broadcasting, cut through the smoke and mirrors when he observed:

"In terms of public diplomacy, however, the White House might have concluded that it can have more impact if the President is interviewed by what is perceived as respected, independent, hard-hitting broadcast news organization than by what is typically (and unfortunately) described as an instrument of US public diplomacy.

One of the BBG's "implementation strategies" is to "broaden cooperation within U.S. public diplomacy." How much weight can a VOA "news" interview have if its supervisory board has achieved its goal of broadly cooperating with US public diplomacy?"

After expenditures of tens of millions of dollars to construct a Persian broadcast operation -- this under the previous Republican administrtation -- a Democratic president and his NSC advisers hand a high-profile interview to the main competition for PNN.

Cite all the statistics you want -- that says a lot, and should have prompted U.S. media outlets to ask questions about why that happened.

Anonymous said...

I think it was very logical for Mr Obama to use BBC Persian to speak to Iranians rather than using a state owned TV by the US government. That was a clever decision by the US president.

Sometimes people write articles without referring to facts.