Monday, July 11, 2005

The Bear Had a Press Card


In an article summarizing his career in the Joplin, Missouri Globe, former Voice of America newsman Bob Chancellor laments the decline of U.S. international broadcasting—a contagious complaint among former U.S. international broadcasters:

The VOA has floundered a bit since the end of the Cold War, Chancellor said. Without an adversary such as the Soviet Union’s propaganda machine, some thought the VOA lost its role, Chancellor said. The agency was reorganized and restructured during the Clinton administration, and lately Chancellor said he thought the VOA was becoming politicized.

Watching the agency’s decline has been painful, he said, because “a lot of us fought for a long time to make it something that was special.”

Well there's good news for anyone who thinks that all VOA needs is a good swift kick in the rear: The ol' Russian bear is dusting off his worldwide propaganda machine!

As VOA News itself reports, the Russian state news agency, RIA-NOVOSTI, has tired of "Anglo-Saxon domination" of the airwaves and will pump around $30 million into a new, 24-hour news network to tell its story in North America, Asia, Europe and some former Soviet republics. (Read Lisa McAdams' VOA piece for the rest.)

Since the Russian domestic TV biz—which consists of exactly two government-sponsored channels—already has what VOA delicately terms "credibility problems," one can practically hear pencils being sharpened and chops being licked as VOA gets set for the competition.

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