The New York Times, in a recent article, describes a growing split between the VOA Union (American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812) and VOA journalists over the proposed changes to the VOA mission (via H.R. 4490), which would make it an active voice of American policy. (Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Marty, for sharing this relevant article).
Below is an excerpt from The Times; click here for the full article:
WASHINGTON — Voice of America journalists who are fighting to maintain what they say is their editorial independence are now at odds not only with Congress, but also with their own union.
The union, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812, recently endorsed a bill that would change language in the charter for the 72-year-old news agency and require it to actively support American policy. That came as a surprise to some Voice of America employees, who said the legislation would make them mouthpieces for government policy. They want the union to withdraw its letter of support.
“A lot of us would welcome change and reform, but not at the cost of undermining V.O.A.’s journalistic credibility,” said Jim Malone, a senior national correspondent at the government-financed news agency who is not a member of the union.
In its letter, union leaders said the agency’s managers had lost sight of their mission and were trying to turn the “V.O.A. into something they envisioned as a global variant of CNN.”
“In the end, some of the currently entrenched senior management represent a far greater threat to V.O.A.’s journalistic independence, indeed to the very existence of the V.O.A.,” the union wrote.
The danger, said the union’s president, Tim Shamble, is that the government could withdraw its financial support if the agency continued its current course. The federation represents about 40 percent of all Voice of America workers and 11 percent of the journalists in the central news division.
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