Question for IBB Director Lobo's "Viewpoint" blog: what will you do about VOA request to deny UN press accreditation to American journalist?

BBG Watch Commentary

IBB Director Dick Lobo

The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Director Richard Lobo has launched his own blog: “Viewpoint. Dick Lobo on international media.

The funny thing about this blog by the presidentially-appointed administrator of the agency — the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) — that claims to support and encourage media freedom and open debate using new media overseas, is that Director Lobo’s blog does not allow for readers to leave comments.

How committed is Director Lobo to media freedom?

Perhaps he can use his blog to let us know what he plans to do about VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch’s official request to the United Nations to withdraw press accreditation from an American journalist Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press.

Lee’s transgression was that he got involved in a professional dispute with a VOA correspondent at the UN and sent a few emails to Redisch with requests for help to resolve it. Redisch never called Lee or responded to his emails. Instead, he wrote to the UN requesting that Lee’s press accreditation be “reviewed.” He accused him of unprofessional behavior and writing annoying emails — charges Matthew Russell Lee denies.

Voice of America Executive Editor Steve Redisch’s response in this case is clearly unprecedented in the history of VOA and U.S. international broadcasting. The Voice of America Charter has never been challenged in this fashion.

Perhaps Director Lobo can share his view on this matter with those who will read his blog. Our sources told us that Director Lobo promised BBG members to investigate this matter. They also say that he has not forwarded to BBG members his official findings. A senior BBG executive is quoted by our sources as saying that Steve Redish’s leadership style at the Voice of America has raised employee morale. Those VOA journalists who have contacted us say exactly the opposite.

But the question is: can a U.S. government official ignore a petition from a U.S. citizen and write to the United Nations with a request to have the press accreditation of an American journalist “reviewed” because he finds the journalist annoying?

We humbly suggest that tackling this media freedom issue and opening his posts to comments might make Director Lobo’s blog far more popular. But will he do it?

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