HOWL – Part Four – Old-fashioned Cronyism at Broadcasting Board of Governors

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A Voice of America journalist who uses a pen name Mary Jane has posed this problem:
As we stand on the precipice of collapse, crumbling and leaderless, fearing for our jobs while simultaneously wishing to be released from this torturous slow decay, a keen look at our so-called management is due.
Mary Jane promised to provide that look in several installments.
The series is titled “HOWL.”
Part Four – Old-fashioned Cronyism

Even more entertaining than the new managers’ chastising emails to staff on the importance of sharing information is their penchant for issuing the details of important coverage information only to those with offices on the 3rd floor, and failing to inform the services with their pesky demands on infrastructure. Their overt disdain for VOA as a news organization, their condescension and “you fools just don’t get it” attitude seems curiously illegitimate when reading their resumes at Linked-in.
Does anyone believe a real journalist holds some of these titles at a network?  An actual reporter who has covered stories in the field? Filed under deadline? These do not appear to be the titles of highly enterprising journalists and outstanding managers.
Then there are the odd lapses in employment between the balloon-boy network and VOA. But nothing, truly nothing, is more infuriating than their apparent failure to recognize that their tenure here has been a catastrophic failure in terms of reporting achievements and employee morale.
Their only legitimacy is derived from intimidating colleagues with their status as a friend hired by a friend. When that cheap, bullying power is no longer in their hands, they will experience a downfall that will inspire glee among a too-often humiliated staff.
Another interesting little bit of cronyism is the curious POV (contractor) employment of their friends, some making $400 a day working on web projects (previous substantive web design experience appears to be: zero). Oh, and rumors are strong that the recently published advertisement for a GS-13 multi-media specialist answering directly to David Ensor is reserved for one of them. The qualifications and abilities REQUIRED for this newly posted position include:
“In conjunction with the Director’s Office, conceptualizes and designs complex television programs with innovative and creative elements, in various formats, such as long features and special reports on breaking news and topics of global significance.
Create and drive content to other Special Report platforms in a timely manner. This includes managing a high amount of user generated content and filtering that content for journalistic relevance. Also responsible for and (sic) identifying a database of reliable and objective citizen journalist.”
This applicant should have documentary production experience and social media experience, qualifications that are somewhat mutually exclusive for most journalists with a few (perhaps ten) years under their belt and qualifications these friends of friends are completely lacking. The smart money says some FoS (Friend of Steve’s) will magically fill these criteria. We gain yet another Big Ideas GS-13 manager FoS for a news organization that can’t afford to cover the news, can’t afford to travel around the United States for original stories,  because it is paying the majority of its budget for “managers.”
I have spent many years at VOA and nothing, nothing comes close to the absolute scandal of another FoS who works as a booker at a remote location far from Washington and New York. How many interviews has this person arranged? Who edits the  written pitches? How much is this person being paid? How is the work evaluated?  (We’ve all heard about an interview ended abruptly by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg because someone sent him advance questions which did not match those being asked by a VOA reporter. We don’t know who wrote and sent out those questions in violation of journalistic rules.)
Since you like to put out emails how important it is for US to inform you about every interview we ever think about, please follow your own advice and list on sharepoint the people being pursued by this POV and the success rate, so we can all be informed and evaluate.
With all the unemployed journalists in Washington, it appears unimaginable that VOA was unable to hire someone local to book guests; perhaps someone in a position to have access to the major players who LIVE IN DC. All the mean-spirited gossip, winks, smirks and nods aside, it appears as old-fashioned cronyism to me. The only mystery surrounding this employment of FoS POVs is why the upper management and the General Counsel continue to turn a blind eye. When they are hauled before a Congressional Investigating Committee perhaps they will try to claim they did not know. (Hey, now you know).

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2 comments

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    Anonymous 18 February, 2012 at 23:49 Reply

    Clearly they won’t be happy until they get rid of all the working journalists and the building is filled only with “managers” and admin support staff.

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