Voice of America Service Apologizes for False VOA Serbian Coronavirus Death News After Criticism by President Vučić
USAGM WATCH COMMENTARY
As of early afternoon March 13, 2020, Voice of America VOA English News was not reporting that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in a nationwide television address yesterday harshly criticized VOA for spreading false news about coronavirus deaths in Serbia which he said did not happen. Voice of America director Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara, appointed during the Obama administration in what is now the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), did not respond immediately to e-mails informing them about President Vučić’s statement about VOA and his appeal to media not to spread lies. “I pray that it never happens again that for two days we have to apologize to people that their loved ones did not suffer, because Voice of America reported and social media reported that some died.” “Please do not spread lies,” Vučić added.
The VOA Serbian Service has posted today (March 13) an apology on its website, but not on its Facebook page. The VOA English News website does not appear to have any mention of the Serbian President’s criticism as of late Friday afternoon. Speaking without a teleprompter, President Vučić said Thursday in a nationwide address carried by Serbian Radio and TV (RTS):
President Vučić speaks about the Voice of America at 7:45.
“I pray that it never happens again that for two days we have to apologize to people that their loved ones did not suffer, because Voice of America reported and social media reported that some died. Please do not spread lies,” Vučić said.
“Molim vas da se nikada više ne dogodi da dva dana moramo da se izvinjavamo ljudima da njihovi bližnji nisu stradali, jer je Glas Amerike objavljivao i društvene mreže prenosile da su neki umrli. Molim da se ne šire laži”, rekao je Vučić.
President Vučić said that out of 24 patients in Serbia infected with coronavirus, 15 are in hospitals so far, one of them is on a respirator. He said that by Monday, some of the patients will be able to leave the hospital. At a news conference also on Thursday, he urged that that fake news should not be spread and that people should not fall for them.
[Translation from Serbian of VOA Serbian Service apology posted on the VOA Serbian Service website but not mentioned or reported on the VOA English News website as of Friday afternoon: https://www.glasamerike.net/a/izvinjenje-zbog-netačne-vesti-o-koronavirusu/5327242.html]
March 13, 2020
Voice of America [Serbian Service]
WASHINGTON – The Serbian-language editorial board of the Voice of America apologizes for news that was mistakenly posted on our website yesterday – GlasAmerike.net.
Inaccurate news was that Voice of America has unofficially learned that the first death of a coronavirus patient has been recorded in Serbia.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic urged that fake news should not be spread and that people should not fall for them.
I pray that it never happens again that for two days we have to apologize to people that their loved ones did not suffer, because Voice of America reported and social networks reported that some died. I pray that lies are not spread, “said Vucic, who added that for the time being, out of 24 infected people in Serbia, 15 are in hospitals and one is on a respirator.
The Voice of America regrets misleading the public, especially at a time when the entire world is in a state of great concern about coronaviruses. That is why today, perhaps more than ever before, it is extremely important to publish accurate and verified information, which is the principle of operation of the Serbian Voice of America service in its almost 77 years of existence.
Voice of America’s Serbian language editorial will strive to continue to report objectively, accurately and in a timely manner on all important topics for our audiences in Serbia and the region.
13 mart, 2020
VAŠINGTON — Redakcija Glasa Amerike na srpskom jeziku izvinjava se zbog vesti koja je juče oko 10 minuta greškom bila postavljena na našoj veb stranici – GlasAmerike.net. Netačna vest glasila je da Glas Amerike nezvanično saznaje da je u Srbiji zabeležen prvi smrtni slučaj od koronavirusa.
Predsednik Srbije Aleksandar Vučić je tokom konferencije za novinare u četvrtak apelovao da se ne šire lažne vesti I da ljudi ne nasedaju na njih.
Molim vas da se nikada više ne dogodi da dva dana moramo da se izvinjavamo ljudima da njihovi bližnji nisu stradali, jer je Glas Amerike objavljivao i društvene mreže prenosile da su neki umrli. Molim da se ne šire laži”, rekao je Vučić, koji je dodao da je za sada, od 24 zaraženih osoba u Srbiji, 15 pacijenata u bolnicama, a jedan od njih na respiratoru.
Glas Amerike žali što je deo javnosti doveo u zabludu, posebno u trenutku kada je ceo svet u stanju velike zabrinutosti zbog koronavirusa. Zato je danas, možda i više nego ikada ranije izuzetno važno objavljivati tačne i proverene informacije, što je i princip rada Srpskog servisa Glasa Amerike u dosadašnjih skoro 77 godina postojanja.
Redakcija Glasa Amerike na srpskom jeziku nastojaće da i u budućnosti objektivno, tačno i pravovremeno izveštava o svim važnim temama za našu publiku u Srbiji i regionu.