Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Make the Voice of America Come Through Loud and Clear

from Small Wars Journal; Reilly Feb 17 Wall Street Journal article (in full) accessible only by subscription

Reilly image from

How to Make the Voice of America Come Through Loud and Clear by Robert Reilly, Wall Street Journal
… Thanks to the work of Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, there is a chance that the Voice of America can finally get back into the ideological arena. Last December, Congress passed Mr. Royce’s bill taking authority over the broadcaster away from the board of governors and returning it to the executive branch. Mr. Trump now has the authority to appoint, with Senate confirmation, a full-time CEO who will report to the president, just as cabinet secretaries do.
The first thing the Voice of America’s new leader will have to face is how seriously disoriented the broadcast has become. Walter Issacson, chairman of the Board of Governors from 2010-12, once said something all too typical: “We just want to get good news, reliable news, and credible information out.” Reliable news was always a part of American broadcasting, but the mission is more. When the Dalai Lama called Voice of America’s Tibetan service “the bread of the Tibetan people,” and when Aung San Suu Kyi called the Burmese service “the hope of the Burmese people,” they were not merely talking about “news.”
News is something commercial broadcasters can do well. Government broadcasting is needed when the U.S. wants to communicate a message to a key audience that would otherwise not hear it.
This is why the Voice of America was never envisaged in its charter as simply a news organization. Its duty was always to reveal the character of the American people and thereby the underlying principles of American life. It owes its listeners the truth of how free people live—and a corrective of the distorted images that our own popular culture sometimes creates, which help inflame anti-American sentiment. That is why news is not enough.
Equally important, the Voice of America is supposed to present and explain the policies of the U.S. government through what is effectively its “editorial page.” Such programming offers the most direct means to ensure that America’s friends and foes know what Washington is doing and why. Yet the broadcaster’s Policy Office staff, which produces the editorials, has been cut 50%. Symptomatically, in 2008 Jeffrey Trimble, the staff director of the board of governors at the time, said: “It is not in our mandate to influence.” If this is so, why bother? Why should the taxpayer keep funding Voice of America?
VOA’s job should be to advance the justice of the American cause while simultaneously undermining our opponents’…

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