VOA Tibetan produced the critically acclaimed documentary Fire in the Land of Snow: Self-immolations in Tibet, which broadcast around the world in Mandarin, Tibetan, and English on satellite, affiliate stations, and VOA websites. The documentary was an important and necessary response to Chinese state media’s coverage of self-immolations, and provided viewers with an honest and balanced look at one of the most politically sensitive issues in China today.
VOA’s Vietnamese Service provided in-depth coverage of attacks by security forces in Hanoi and two other large cities in Vietnam on human rights activists. The attacks came after the activists tried to hold what they called “human rights picnics.” Service coverage included interviews with activists, police, and representatives from international human rights groups, as well as legal scholars in the United States.
VOA Khmer provided extensive coverage of July’s national election in Cambodia, including interviews with ruling and opposition leaders and on-the-ground reporting from six stringers in Cambodia’s major provinces. There was never any let-up in the VOA coverage despite early warnings from the government that all international broadcasts in the Khmer language would be banned in the 31 days preceding the vote. The government rolled back the comprehensive ban on election coverage following a public outcry by VOA, other international media organizations and human rights groups. Despite the lifting of the 30 day ban on all election coverage, the government did impose media restrictions in the last 48 hours of the campaign, which resulted in some VOA broadcasts being pulled from affiliate stations. VOA Khmer programming continued throughout the election and its aftermath on MW and SW and on its websites. After the restrictions were fully lifted, VOA was back on local affiliate stations with news of the continuing controversy about the election.
The Horn of Africa Service had some groundbreaking reporting on the vocal protests by Ethiopian Muslims against what they perceive as government attempts to interfere in Islamic affairs. And the Horn’s coverage has not escaped the notice of the Addis Ababa government: On February 26 it resumed jamming some service broadcasts. In the past, the jamming was focused almost exclusively on Amharic programs, but this time Afan Oromo is targeted, apparently because its biggest audience is in the Oromia region, which has a majority Muslim population.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information notified VOA in December 2013 that permission has been granted to open an official accredited news bureau in Rangoon. This marks another milestone for VOA as the Myanmar government continues its rapid pace of change from one of the world’s most repressive media minders to a government more accepting of the freedom of information. In the last year, VOA Burmese TV programming has appeared on the Burmese cable channel SkyNet, and VOA English Learning products have aired on Burmese state radio.
In early 2013, VOA Director David Ensor traveled to Mali for the launch of a new FM transmitter in Bamako, Mali’s capital, which allows 24/7 broadcasting of targeted news and information in French. VOA this year also launched programming in Songhai and Bambara languages. The 30-minute Bambara program Mali Kura (Mali News) focuses in politics, regional and local developments, health, and culture. VOA also launched a mobile broadcast in the Songhai language, which is spoken mainly in the north of Mali, where French military forces intervened in early 2013 to help push out Islamic extremists who seized control of key cities last year.
VOA continued its tri-lingual approach during Mali’s July 2013 elections, with extended election-day broadcasts, reports from polling stations around the country, and in-studio interviews with analysts and candidates. The elections, which were postponed for over a year after the March 2012 military coup, represented a critical rebuilding stage. VOA was there to give audiences up-to-the-minute news on the election as it unfolded, as well as practical information on voting and the electoral process.
VOA Deewa extended its normal broadcasts by six hours on May 10 and 11 to cover Pakistan’s general elections for the central parliament and four provincial assemblies. The service focused in depth on the threat of attacks on political leaders, the participation of youth and women, and the impact of the Taliban. Deewa also provided U.S. perspective on the elections through interviews with experts on Pakistan, and a special “Deewa Election Blog” was created on the service’s website. The extra effort did not go unnoticed. In one of the messages of praise to the service, Ms. Shad Begum, a 2012 recipient of the International Women of Courage Award, said, “It was due to VOA Deewa that Pashtun women in the far-flung areas came out to vote. We are thankful to Deewa Radio for mobilizing the otherwise ignored communities …”
In May, Thein Sein became the first Burmese leader to visit Washington in 47 years. He came to VOA, and, in front of a studio audience that included representatives of U.S.-based Burmese groups, answered questions posed to him by the chief of VOA’s Burmese Service and members of the audience. The question-and-answer session lasted nearly an hour, and much of it was devoted to the human rights situation in Burma. The Burmese leader acknowledged some “heavy-handed” actions by police in their efforts to control political dissent in the country, and said both protesters and police must understand their responsibilities as democracy takes hold.
VOA’s Afghan Service and Channel One TV (1TV) in Afghanistan have teamed up on a high-tech television program called Pivot Line, which links studios in Washington and Kabul to address critical issues in U.S.-Afghan relations. Guest panelists and hosts in both studios take questions from a live studio audience in Kabul, as well as questions posted on Pivot Line’s Facebook page.
VOA Persian aired a full day of live coverage and analysis of the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York today (Tuesday), including long-anticipated speeches by President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The TV special, running from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST, was broadcast to Iran on direct-to-home satellite, social media sites, streamed on the Internet and on proxy servers designed to circumvent Iranian Internet blocking.
In August, VOA unveiled out its new mobile app with news in 43 languages. The app is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, and includes region-by-region content as well as special sections on health, science, and technology. The new app also gives citizen journalists the chance to share photos, audio, text or video with VOA editors in Washington directly. The app also has integrated functionality with proxy servers, so users may still access unfiltered VOA news in countries where the Internet is heavily censored by the government.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheik Mohamud headlined a town hall meeting in London, sponsored by VOA’s Somali Service. About 80 young Somali exiles attended the early May event, moderated by Somali Service staffer Harun Maruf. The exiles asked blunt questions and President Mohamud answered just as bluntly. President Mohamud was in London at the time for a conference on rebuilding Somalia, and the Somali Service broadcast the meeting in its entirety on the service’s youth show, Your Call, and excerpts aired on the service’s website.
The Creole Service, working with the US Embassy in Port-Au-Prince, conducted a one-week training seminar in Washington for 15 Haitian journalists in mid-July. The seminar included sessions on the role of the press in a democracy and explanations of how the U.S. system of government works, with visits to the White House, State Department and Congress, where the journalists met with Democratic Congressman John Conyers. The seminar also featured sessions on social media, writing headlines, editorial guidelines, interview techniques and television anchoring.
VOA Russian, which typically focuses its efforts on an online audience, put together a special TV package on the New York mayoral race in November, at the request of REN TV, one of the largest private channels in Russia. The package focused on Bill de Blasio and what the election results said about New York. REN broadcast the VOA Russian feature several times, including on its 7 p.m. prime time newscast.
The Russian Service also expanded its affiliation with the Russian Business Channel (RBC) by adding two weekly live interactives from VOA’s Washington studio. Since December, the service has been providing RBC with four weekly reports from the New York Stock Exchange. The interactives from Washington are aired in RBC’s prime time newscast.
Late in May, Turks reacted with outrage to the eviction of demonstrators protesting the planned demolition of Istanbul’s Gezi Park. The eviction sparked anti-government protests that continued through June. VOA Central News, Turkish and Kurdish reporters provided on-scene reports from Istanbul and other cities. In addition, the Turkish Service, on its website, and in its reports to its affiliate, TGRT, carried U.S. statements on the protests, including those from the White House, the National Security Council, and the State Department. Through interviews with Turkish officials in Washington, the service obtained the government’s response to the protests.
VOA Urdu’s new TV show Kahani Pakistani airs twice weekly on Pakistan’s Aaj News. The 30-minute show explores the intersection between American life and Pakistani culture, with host Ayesha Gilani. The program also features stories from Pakistanis and other South Asians provide multifaceted perspective on life in America.
VOA Somali launched its first-ever TV program, supporting a medium that is becoming more and more popular in Somalia. Qubanaha(Variety) provides objective and comprehensive news on topics critical to audiences in Somalia as well as diaspora members, including reports from VOA’s network of stringers in the country.
VOA Hausa’s mobile site has become a go-to source for breaking news for audiences throughout Nigeria and West Africa. The Hausa-language site now receives more than 2 million page views a month. The mobile site includes a special sectiondedicated to the latest news on the three states in Northern Nigeria that have been under a state of emergency since May 14, 2013, with coverage of human rights abuses and incidents of torture that would otherwise go unreported.
VOA Zimbabwe, popularly known as Studio 7, covered the July presidential election with coverage from every province in Zimbabwe, and much of the coverage was highly interactive. On July 18, the service broadcast an in-house panel discussion called “Zimbabwe: Elections and Beyond.” The event was streamed live online, making it the Zimbabwe Service’s first video event. Panelists engaged in an hour-long discussion about challenges facing the country and answered questions from Studio 7 listeners that arrived in a variety of ways: e-mail, the WhatsApp smartphone app, as well as from the live audience at VOA headquarters. Among the web tools the service created for the elections was a candidate map that offered profiles of the presidential candidates, as well as profiles of some of the candidates in local elections. The map had pop-ups with links to interviews and stories about the candidates. Another web tool the service provided was a crowdsource map called “Zimbabwe Election 2013: What Are You Seeing?” It invited visitors to post, before, during, and after the elections, what they witnessed.
Within hours of getting posted on QQ Weibo, one of China’s most popular Twitter-like services, a VOA Mandarin report on the dangerously polluted underground aquifers in Northern China was viewed tens of thousands of times and reposted by thousands of viewers. The report by Fred Wang, VOA Mandarin’s Beijing correspondent, included an interview with Chinese geologist Fan Xiao, who estimated that more than 20,000 factories in the country are discharging unprocessed waste water into waste wells, pits and ditches, and even underground storage sites. As a result, according to the geologist, there has been a spike in heavy metal and other toxicants in the country’s already depleted underground water supply. The report, which has full VOA branding, has been viewed by more than 1.3 million people. It is the latest example of VOA Mandarin’s success in circumventing Beijing’s firewall and getting widespread attention on Chinese social media.
In Burma, Shwe FM began airing VOA’s popular English-learning programs on FM stations across the country. American Idioms English has drawn praise even from government officials. The program introduces one popular expression in each episode, and explains the meaning in Burmese. Expanded episodes air each Friday morning on shortwave and medium wave radio, and introduce a series of thematically related idioms. In addition to Shwe FM, audiences can also listen to American Idioms English on the VOA Burmese website and on shortwave and AM frequencies.
In April, VOA’s English Division launched a revamped daily TV news magazine show, Africa 54, a 30-minute program that features special segments on social media trends, and targets a younger, more urban demographic. Hosts of the new program encourage audience engagement via Facebook and Twitter.
On Earth Day, the VOA Deewa Breakfast Show focused on a nationwide cleanliness campaign. After the program, fans posted pictures on Deewa’s Facebook page showing how their children got into the spirit of the day. …
VOA’s environmental documentary on the Midwest U.S. drought of 2012 provided a comprehensive look at the far-ranging impacts of the drought, which were felt worldwide. A Dry Season received awards and praise from international environmental journalism associations, for its balanced and comprehensive coverage of an important story.
With the al-Shabab rebels in retreat and a new government in place, a semblance of normal life is returning to Mogadishu and many other parts of Somalia. But the damage wrought by more than 20 years of civil war has left deep wounds, especially to the country’s health services. To help heal those wounds, the VOA Somali Service has begun offering a health series focused on eliminating child malnutrition. Aid organizations say there are about 236,000 malnourished children scattered throughout Somalia.
VOA reached a funding agreement in March 2013 with USAID and the U.S. embassy in Bujumbura that will extend the life of two Central Africa Service programs — Kira, a health show, and Tujahe, an entrepreneurship show — broadcast to Burundi. The agreement was reached in March and came 13 months after the launch of the two weekly half-hour programs in Kirundi, Burundi’s national language. Under the agreement, Kira will be extended for two years and Tujahe for one. Both programs are heard on VOA’s SW frequencies and on REMA FM, VOA’s Bujumbura-based affiliate.
VOA Persian covered the June 2013 Iranian elections extensively, with extended broadcasts, constant updates reported live through Twitter and Facebook, and a website dedicated to the election that featured a special file-sharing dropbox set up in “U-send-it” for Iranians to share photos, videos and voice messages with any VOA Persian Service program. The audience participation program Straight Talk featured a Skype interview with former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani Sadr, who took audiences questions — some directly from Iran.
In the run-up to this year’s elections, VOA Persian’s irreverent satirical program OnTen, carried a special message of solidarity to people in Iran from lead U2 singer Bono. OnTen also aired photos and video blogs from the presidential candidates, with a mixture of humor, mockery, and news that provides viewers in Iran with comedic relief and a lighthearted look at serious issues.
In June, the Spanish Service started a live, daily interactive segment with the leading TV network in Peru, Andina Television. The 5-minute prime time segment deals with the top U.S. news stories of the day. The Spanish Service has also added more live reporting on U.S. developments for some of its affiliates in Mexico, Ecuador and Uruguay. The service also welcomed a new affiliate in Chile, Radio Agricultura, one of the top three radio stations in the country.
The following highlights are a sampling from 2012 of VOA’s engagement with audiences in countries of strategic importance, including areas prone to terror incidents, genocide, or failed states.
Several new Urdu language TV programs were introduced for audiences in Pakistan. Zindagi 360, which airs on the Hum TV cable channel and Sana. A Pakistani, which airs on the Express News cable channel, focus on topics that resonate with young people. For frank dialogue, the program Access Point with Ayesha Tanzeem gives viewers in Pakistan a way to debate tough issues with studio guests in Washington. The Urdu Service also has launched Newsminute, a short segment that airs in prime time on Aaj TV, Express News and Dunya TV.
Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province
Deewa Radio, which has a large audience in Pakistan’s tribal areas, has moved into the increasingly popular direct-to-home satellite TV market. It has adopted a “radio-on-TV” format as a cost-effective way to expand its reach.
VOA TV continues to enjoy a large audience in Afghanistan, where it is carried by the national TV network and reaches an estimated 27 percent of the adult population every week. Combined with the weekly radio audience, VOA reaches nearly 11 million people in Afghanistan every week, more than 60 percent of the adult population.
The VOA Spanish Service increased both its affiliate base and audience reach in 2012 by offering live VOA reports to some of region’s leading television networks and stations. New affiliates include Mexico’s Television Azteca and Radio Formula, Globovision and Radio Caracas in Venezuela, Peru’s Andina TV and Radio Programas del Peru as well as Ecuador’s Teleamazonas and Radio Sonorama. The service also has made inroads in Central America with its “Washington Bureau” concept, which offers live reports from VOA correspondents throughout the United States.
VOA’s audience in Russia expanded with the launch of Podelis, a dynamic TV-webcast that engages online followers on topics they select. VOA Russian is also working with the independent Dozhd TV channel and other stations to provide coverage of U.S. news.
VOA’s Ukrainian TV program remains one of the most popular in the country with a weekly audience of 16 percent. VOA reports and interviews are now featured on the popular Pravda news portal.
Among the more than 52 million people a week who listen to VOA programs in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 20 million listen in Nigeria alone. The Hausa Service has responded to the emergence of the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram with the launch of a weekly program that looks at social issues in northern Nigeria. VOA also has conducted a series of journalist training programs, established a reporting center, and added a sports blog for soccer-mad audiences in West Africa.
VOA’s measured weekly audience is 74 percent of adults in the regions of Somaliland and Puntland. VOA played a key role in gauging public perceptions about a new constitution that was being drafted for the country. Government officials praised VOA for its survey that used Google Ideas software and polled more than 3,000 Somalis about key provisions of the constitution and the kind of government they want.
The seizure of Northern Mali by Islamic militants brought unique challenges. VOA is one of the first western news agencies to get a journalist into the region after the takeover and set up three-minute newscasts for mobile phone users with on-the-ground reports and breaking news from the surrounding countries.
VOA’s South Sudan In Focus radio program provided extensive coverage of ethnic violence in Jonglei State and tension between Sudan and South Sudan.
VOA’s Studio 7 broadcasts now reach 12.1 percent of rural and 7.5 percent of urban adults weekly in Zimbabwe. VOA is one of the leading international broadcasters in this African nation, which earns continued low marks for lack of press freedom.
The Burmese Service began the year by expanding its TV magazine show with a fast-paced, six-day-a-week summary of regional and global developments. In a historic market opening, VOA is now carried by Sky Net, a privately owned satellite TV operator of a 24-hour Burmese and English channel. Burma’s state-owned radio and television also agreed to broadcast VOA English teaching programs.
Chinese viewers now have two hours of fast-paced news and information following the launch of the new Mandarin language television program VOA Weishi via direct-to-home satellite and popular social media sites inside China. Innovative program elements provide viewers with information they cannot get on state owned stations. One segment, Error 404, focuses on Chinese censorship, showing the audience what is blocked by China’s Internet filters and why. In addition, VOA’s hit Chinese-English video blog, OMG! Meiyu is now available in the iTunes store as a podcast.
VOA was on the front line in covering the self-immolations, demonstrations and civil movements that occurred across Tibet and Tibetan areas in China. Despite the closed media environment, VOA provided multimedia coverage of the Tibetan student protests in Qinghai province and a demonstration by the Tibetan medical students taking place in Rebkong. Exclusive cell phone video and a Skype interview with a witness were made available online and on social media sites within the hour, and promptly broadcast on radio.
VOA Khmer has moved from radio production to television with the launch of a four-day a week WebTV program on YouTube. The program covers topics ranging from genocide, corruption and human rights to economic development and social issues. The reports are shared on affiliate television stations in Cambodia as well as on the Web through a growing social media network.
VOA Indonesian is reaching more than 21 million people each week (13 % of the country’s adult population) through more than 400 affiliate radio stations and more than 30 TV affiliates.
Audience numbers in Iran grew in 2012. New Gallup data show the weekly TV audience grew to 21.4 percent, up from 6.5 percent in 2011. The return of the VOA signal to the popular Hotbird satellite is believed to be a key factor. With the addition of radio and the Internet, VOA’s total audience reach in Iran is now estimated at 22.1 percent. Under the leadership of a new management team, the Persian Service has updated its programs and is now available 24 hours a day on Livestation, an Internet streaming platform.
VOA inaugurated a new weekly news program Kurd Connection. Beginning as a web-cast only and hosted by Dakhil Elias, Kurd Connection recently gained two affiliations from Kurdish-speaking broadcasters. The Kurdish Service has introduced a social media component to its daily one-hour radio on TV program, with editors appearing on the program to talk about trending news stories and to solicit input from viewers/listeners.
The Azeri Service is having extraordinary success with its Live Web Forums, using social media and the Internet to bring prominent Azeri officials, human rights activists, writers, and journalists before average Azeri citizens. During the Live Web Forum, the services’ journalists act as mediators who relay the questions to the guest and make responses available to the public.
VOA on the Web
VOA websites got a new look and feel in 2012, with the transition to the Pangea content management system that makes navigation easier, highlights compelling content, and allows more multimedia functionality.
- VOA’s TV Ashna, a respected hour-long program that broadcasts in Dari and Pashto, is now appointment viewing for many in Afghanistan. Under a new five year contract, Radio-Television Afghanistan will continue to broadcast the news program six nights a week. VOA Dari and Pashto websites have grown in popularity, and subscribers get programs via mobile browsers and email.
- VOA ’s satirical program to Iran, Parazit, rode a wave of popularity in 2011. Viewers sent in pictures of their families, both young and old, watching at so-called “Parazit Parties.” It even spawned a new term in Iran: “Paraziti,” a fan who dresses up like the irreverent co-creator of the program Saman Arbabi, who is well known for his wild and colorful outfits. The show was viewed millions of times on social media sites, despite Iranian efforts to block access. In November, Secretary of State Clinton made a guest appearance on the program, which has been called an Iranian version of “The Daily Show.” Along with ongoing news programming in Persian, VOA marked the Iranian New Year with a special televised performance of the play, An Iranian in Heaven, starring Oscar-nominated actress and Emmy award winner, Shohreh Aghdashloo.
- Traffic to VOA ’s Russian website nearly doubled in 2011 and saw record growth in Twitter followers and YouTube video views. With its web-only strategy in Russia, VOA has attracted a growing audience with new blogs and social media features that invite an active online conversation. The new Russian iPhone app rolled out in April lets citizen journalists upload and share short reports, photos, or video about key events.
- VOA ’s Croatian Service signed off for the last time on November 23, 2011, after 19 years of broadcast history that began during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia and ended with Croatia’s emergence as a democratic member of the European community.
- VOA made increasing use of mobile as a delivery platform in Africa, where in most areas the technology is outpacing the growth of home Internet use. In addition, a daily video headline segment called VOA 60 for Africa has also been added to many VOA mobile sites. The Hausa Service saw over 200,000 visits to its mobile site in December alone. The Zimbabwe Service’s radio show, Studio 7, which broadcasts in English, Shona and Ndebele, joined the Intelsat-10 “direct to home” satellite lineup along with other VOA programs reaching Southern Africa. A new French language show, Your Health–Your Future, is part of an increased emphasis on health-related news programs to the continent.
- VOA responded to the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa with comprehensive coverage from the region. Somali and Amharic drought programs were added to deliver life-saving information to refugees and victims of the crisis. VOA launched a pioneering online data visualization project that outlined the scope of the disaster.
- VOA -trained citizen journalists fanned out across the Democratic Republic of Congo gathering video, pictures and information to create a dynamic online conversation about the 2011 election and life in Congo. Congo Story: War, Women and Rape, a joint project between VOA and Citizen-Global is a multimedia crowdsourcing platform which allows victims of the country’s rape crisis to tell their haunting personal stories.
- South Sudan’s independence celebrations were broadcast live in July on VOA ’s radio program South Sudan in Focus, which is funded by a State Department grant. It is co-hosted from Washington and Juba and broadcast on FM, AM and shortwave.
- The Somali Service saw listening rates soar to 73 percent in 2011 – one of VOA ’s highest.
- OMG! Meiyu, a trendy, online English teaching feature, was seen by more than 5.5 million people in its first four months. The quirky videos produced by Jessica Beinecke are posted on social media sites and teach popularEnglish expressions used by young Americans. A new Chinese language iPhone app was launched in June, giving users the news on their mobile devices, and enabling citizen journalists to upload tips and photos from their phones. Chinese language TV and radio programs continue to be popular in China despite efforts to block them.
- VOA Tibet hosted a live televised debate from Washington in March featuring three candidates vying to become Prime Minister of the exiled Tibetan government and broadcast live coverage of the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday celebration in Washington in July. Surveys of exiles and people leaving Tibet suggest a sizeable audience for VOA TV programs.
- VOA ’s Burmese Service provided extensive coverage of the country’s changing political climate in 2011, and hosted a series of programs with Pro-Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. VOA reporters were on hand as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her historic visit to Burmain December.
- VOA journalist Sungwon Baik completed a rare reporting assignment to North Korea in September to cover the 17th International Taekwon-Do World Championships in Pyongyang. VOA programs reach North Korea on shortwave, medium wave and mobile sites.
- Japan’s deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster were covered extensively by VOA ’s correspondent Steve Herman, who became one of the most quoted international journalists to report on the story. Herman, a prolific and well known Twitter user, was one of the first reporters to reach the crippled Fukushima-1 reactor, capturing photographs and providing an eyewitness description of the depopulated zone.
- This year El Tiempo, one of the region’s oldest and most respected news organizations, began using VOA reports on its growing 24-hour cable TV service in Colombia.
- VOA ’s Creole Service updated its lineup of programs with new segments focused on engaging its increasingly youthful audience and examining critical issues including the economy, health, public safety and education. Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, marking the service’s 25th anniversary, called the program, “a model and example for many radio stations and for journalists in Haiti.”
- VOA reporter and videographer June Soh won a Bronze Medal at the New York Festivals® World’s Best Television and Films Awards in New York. The TV feature profiled renowned acoustic guitar maker and musician Wayne Henderson. Correspondent Michael O’Sullivan won a LA Press Club National Entertainment Award for his feature about a group of “famous jazz old timers coming together for a recording session like it was done in the old days.”
- A report by Jerome Socolovsky about the pro-democracy protests in Egypt was honored by the Association for International Broadcasting with a “Highly Commended” award in the category of “clearest coverage of a single news event – radio.”
- Reporter Carolyn Presutti and Videographer Michael Kornely won a Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Specialty Reporting for a five-part series from the Mississippi Delta region, including a story about a school that teaches young musicians how to play the blues.
- Young-Ran Jeon won the 2010 New York Festivals Gold World Trophy for National/International Affairs for her three-part radio series on North Korean migrant workers in Vladivostok, Russia. Jeon’s reports provided rare insight into the hardships that the workers endure in order to earn a higher income than is possible in North Korea.
- Reporter Jessica Beinecke was “highly commended” by the Association of International Broadcasters in the category of Best Creative TV feature for her Mandarin program Bai Jie Speaks English.
- VOA’s Thai Service received an honorary award from Bangkok’s Thammasat University, a top institution of higher learning in Thailand, in recognition of 15 years of teaching classes.
- Myroslava Gangadze, the host of Chas-Time, was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Ukraine by Focus Magazine, a popular newsweekly, for the second year in a row.
- The Bedirxan Cultural Foundation, based in northern Iraq, held its 7th annual festival in Washington, DC, under the theme of “Cultural Bridges between Kurds and Americans.” The foundation gave VOA’s Kurdish Service an award for its exceptional contribution to the local media.
- Haitians, cut off from the world by a devastating earthquake in January 2010, tuned in to special shortwave and satellite radio broadcasts from the Voice of America’s Creole Service to learn the latest news and information. “In times of crises, VOA is a lifeline of information,” said VOA Director Danforth Austin. “Because of our technologies, we are able to reach people in their own languages when disasters strike.” ”
- VOA’s Russian service continues to keep consumers up-to-date using the latest technology. In March 2010, the service launched a new website for cell phone users in the Russian Federation’s rapidly expanding web market. The new URL automatically adapts to a user’s mobile phone – allowing easy and convenient access to the VOA Russian-language Internet site. “With Russia’s quickly evolving new media landscape, we are constantly adapting to new realities,” said Elez Biberaj, VOA Eurasia Division Director.
- VOA’s Persian News Network continues to cover events inside Iran, following the controversial election in June 2009 of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In June of 2010, VOA was granted rights to air the HBO documentary For Neda, the tragic story of the young Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot and killed during the turmoil that followed the election. The program tells Neda’s personal story, and features previously unseen footage. VOA’s PNN has the largest combined television and radio audience in Iran of all international broadcasters, with nearly 20% of adult Iranians watching a VOA program at least once a week.
- VOA was on the scene in South Africa, boosting its multimedia coverage of the World Cup with daily reports, special features, videos, and photos. Among the broadcasters covering the tournament- hosts from the Persian News Network, Spanish-language VOANoticias, and popular English host Sonny Young. VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch said: “People all over the globe are passionate about football, and VOA is determined to provide our worldwide audience with as much coverage, analysis and color as possible.”