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As VOA Spin Falters, Below Ensor, Redisch & Pace Named by Union

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 5 -- Just after Independence Day we ask again, why does the US government need a propaganda network, and why turn it loose inside the US? On July 2, Inner City Press published a short critique of Voice of America and its Broadcast Board of Governors, here.

  In the three days since, mail has poured in providing yet more detailed accounts of BBG and Voice of America incompetence and assaults on the principles they supposedly uphold. (Beyond this new communication, just for example today Voice of America mis-identified Nyala, the capital of South Darfur in Sudan, as “Nyla,” here and here for now.)

  The union that represents workers there, AFGE Local 1812, has written that

poor morale was made markedly worse by a decision in 2010 to re-appoint the present newsroom director [Sonja Pace]. A correspondent since the 1980’s, she had been reassigned from the position of news chief more than a decade earlier. Fast forward to 2010: An audio recording of an open meeting in VOA’s newsroom shows that strong protests against the reappointment of the former news director were dismissed by VOA's Executive Editor [Steve Redisch] a former CNN employee. In the recording, the Executive Editor rejected staff concerns, saying 'you’re responsible for your own morale.' Though he has known of the morale crisis in VOA’s Central News Division created by the 2010 decision, current VOA director David Ensor has allowed this situation to continue.”

  Inner City Press in 2012 had its own experience of these three individuals. VOA's Executive Editor Steve Redisch wrote to the UN asking that Inner City Press' accreditation be “reviewed.”

  The only communication Inner City Press had received from VOA or BBG in Washington prior to this was from Sonja Pace, that “regarding VOA’s Charter and Code, we absolutely stand by those mandates and guidelines, without exception.”

  Apparently Voice of America's principles don't include the First Amendment. Subsquent inquiring under the Freedom of Information Act found David Ensor involved in the decision to try to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. Ensor served the US State Department in Afghanistan and perhaps re-formed his view of press freedom there.

  Interestingly, the Obama administration has nominated former Afghanistan envoy Ryan Crocker to join the half-empty Broadcasting Board of Governors, along with John Kerry, while claiming that the output under the BBG is entirely independent from the US government. This is not credible.

  The Colombia Journalism Review, with its own conflicts, has made this point, and BBG has belatedly responded. Will any of this finally bring accountability? Watch this site.

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