Honored to be here

Hello, everyone.  I’m John Lansing, the new CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  I’ve been on the job for a few months, but I know many of you don’t know me yet.  So I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself through the first of my monthly blog posts in which I will focus on the critical mission we all play at the BBG.  In each post, I will share with you our news, innovations and challenges.  I look forward to your feedback on this inaugural post!

The BBG is the independent federal agency that oversees the five U.S.-funded broadcast networks: Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB, which oversees TV and Radio Martí) and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN, which includes Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa).

Alhurra correspondent Marwan Zaatar
Alhurra correspondent Marwan Zaatar

The BBG employs thousands of hard-working journalists around the world who put their heart and soul every day into reporting the news and telling objective and compelling stories.  It’s their duty, and they do it without reservation. They provide accurate, unbiased news and information; a crucial need in many parts of the world.

In the five months since I started working at BBG, I’m constantly awestruck by the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of my colleagues.  Last week, a swath of more than two feet of snow covered parts of the Mid-Atlantic states including Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, bringing everything to a standstill.  However, employees from VOA, MBN and RFA braved the treacherous conditions and seamlessly kept the news flowing to our millions of listeners and viewers overseas. (RFE/RL and OCB are based in Prague and Miami respectively, so their news operations were not affected by this storm.)

At VOA, more than 100 staff members covered the news and many slept at their work stations on cots.  They handled their shifts and those of colleagues who couldn’t make it in.  At least one walked to work, an eight-mile trip one way.  Another rode his bicycle from at least 15 miles away.  Television, radio, Web and social media content was produced as scheduled.

I’m proud of how we persevered but not surprised. This is what BBG journalists do so often around the globe – they put themselves in harm’s way during armed conflicts and go the extra mile during natural disasters or other chaotic situations, all to get the news out in real time.  In that sense, we’re just like any other news outlet in the world, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the BBG team.