BBG’s Commission on Innovation holds first meeting in New York as BBG ignores advice on human rights reporting from its own journalists
The BBG is bragging about its commission on innovation, which is great, but what the BBG needs even more is a commission on sensitivity to human rights abuses and assaults on media freedom abroad. BBG members could, of course, listen to some of their journalists who had experienced life under totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. But, of course, this is not the way BBG members think and operate. It’s far better for them to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to private contractors and consultants and to organize meetings in New York or Prague.
In fact, the BBG wants to fire 45 Voice of America journalists who specialize in human rights reporting to China. No doubt that the money saved by getting rid of these reporters, who understand the mission of U.S. international broadcasting far better than BBG executives, will pay for even more BBG commissions and outside consultants. We offer here very good advice for BBG members and their executive staff from a VOA Chinese Branch reporter. We think that members of the BBG’s Commission on Innovation could also benefit from watching this video. The advice from the VOA journalist is free. It’s always been available and free if the BBG would only listen.
The video shows a group of remarkable journalists from the Voice of America Mandarin and Cantonese radio, TV, and Internet services directing pointed questions to former VOA Director Dan Austin and making persuasive arguments against the Broadcasting Board of Governors decision to end all on-the-air radio and TV news broadcasting in their languages to China. It’s now up to the U.S. Congress to save VOA from the BBG’s effort to destroy the Voice of America as a broadcasting organization. VOA radio broadcasts to Russia had already been terminated by the BBG in 2008, resulting in an over 80% drop in audience reach. The BBG claims that Internet-only program delivery strategy prepares VOA for the future by targeting new media and a younger audience when in fact BBG’s own research shows that it has been a failure in Russia and is not likely to reach a vast new audience in China. VOA Chinese Service journalists point out that the BBG with the support of VOA Director Austin (he has since resigned) are terminating VOA radio broadcasts that have a larger audience in China and higher name recognition than Radio Free Asia (RFA) and BBC. The BBG plans to give VOA shortwave frequencies to RFA. One cannot be but impressed with professionalism and expert knowledge of these journalists when they point out to Director Austin that 750 million of Chinese have no Internet access and that the regime in Beijing can block and censor Internet access for those who have it. Director Austin keeps repeating that the strategy will bring a new audience when in fact — as the members of his Chinese services point out — they already have extensive Internet presence. It was obvious from his answers that neither he nor the BBG has a plan…