Tag Archives: USAGM

USAGM: questions about journalistic and financial management

(Source: New York Times)

WASHINGTON — The United States Agency for Global Media, the government’s foreign broadcast service, already struggling to clean house after a series of scandals last year at flagship operations like Voice of America and TV Martí, is now being rocked by two new cases that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management.

In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Mr. Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year.

That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to stealing government property.

A former deputy to the agency’s chief executive, John Lansing, Mr. Ullah admitted to fleecing the government of $37,000 between February and October last year by claiming reimbursements for expensive hotels he did not book, double-billing the government for official travel and forging a doctor’s note to allow him to fly business class. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

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The new problems are unrelated to each other; in the case of Mr. Ullah, the agency said its internal controls flagged the expense fraud. But along with many others over the past two years, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Created during World War II to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack, the agency has 3,500 journalists who reach more than 345 million people in 100 countries each week.

The United States Agency for Global Media initiated an investigation into the allegedly faked segment at TV Martí “immediately after these concerns about the footage in question were raised,” the agency said in a statement. “As the agency has made clear, we have zero tolerance for failing to honor clear and universally accepted standards of professional journalism. We also owe it to all involved to conduct a thorough and clear investigation to get all of the facts.”

“I take seriously any breach of professional journalistic standards at any U.S.A.G.M. network. I have asked for a thorough and swift investigation,” Mr. Lansing said in an emailed statement. “I expect all U.S.A.G.M. networks to adhere to truthfulness, fairness and accountability in their reporting.”

Click here to read the full article at the New York Times.

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BBG Watch: Former Analyst Challenges USAGM Audience Measurement Methods, Claims of Sharp Increases

As a follow-up to our previous post featuring Kim Elliott’s commentary, check out the following article by Dan Robinson in BBG Watch:

Former Analyst Challenges USAGM Audience Measurement Methods, Claims of Sharp Increases

By Dan Robinson

A former analyst for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees taxpayer-funded broadcast and online media directed at overseas audiences, has publicly challenged the methods used by the agency in making audience size claims.

An audience research analyst for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (formerly the Broadcasting Board of Governors) for many years, Kim Elliott, Ph.D., is the first former official to raise questions about USAGM figures.

His views, published online by the University of Southern California Center for Public Diplomacy blog, also appeared first in a small circulation subscription journal published by NASWA (North American Shortwave Association). This article is based on both pieces.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Dan also points out the following BBG Watch article which focuses on Twitter polls:

http://bbgwatch.com/bbgwatch/twitter-poll-voa-and-radio-farda-usagm-iran-audience-claims-are-false/

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USAGM’s increased audience: a side-effect of changing measurement methodology

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Andrew Elliott, who shares the following article and writes:

USAGM (US International Broadcasting and Associated Media) reported a 24 percent increase in measured audience in 2018. Why the sudden increase? Did a major war break out? No, the measurement methodology changed …

https://www.uscpublicdiplomacy.org/blog/usagm-audience-increase-less-startling-meets-eye

THE USAGM AUDIENCE INCREASE: LESS STARTLING THAN MEETS THE EYE

by Kim Andrew Elliott

A February 2019 email newsletter from John Lansing, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (new name for the Broadcasting Board of Governors) proclaimed that “2018 was a banner year” for USAGM. He noted that “USAGM programming was consumed by 345 million adults weekly worldwide—including radio, television and internet—an unprecedented year-on-year increase of 67 million from 2017.” This refers to the USAGM’s Audience Impact Overview for 2018 issued November 2018.

That would be a 24 percent increase in one year. As an international broadcasting audience research analyst for 42 years (10 in academia and 32 for the Voice of America and its parent agencies), a 24 percent “year-on-year” increase gets my notice. Why there was such a dramatic increase? Did a major war break out, causing people to seek information from abroad? No, nothing beyond the ongoing simmering regional conflicts. Did one of the USAGM entities score a new television affiliate, with a prime-time slot in a populous country? If that had caused the increase, I am sure it would have been highlighted in the report.

According to the press release (apparently no longer at the USAGM website but available here), “The measured weekly audience grew to 345 million people in FY 2018, from 278 million people in FY 2017, an unprecedented increase of 67 million.” The reader could easily interpret this as a sudden one-year audience increase of 67 million, but it is actually a change in the “measured” audience.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 

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Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) rebranded as U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)

(Source: BBG/USAGM Press Release)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2018

John Lansing (Source: BBG)

Effective immediately, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent U.S. government agency that employs thousands of talented journalists, storytellers, and media professionals, is now the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

The U.S. Agency for Global Media is a modern media organization, operating far beyond the traditional broadcast mediums of television and radio to include digital and mobile platforms. The term “broadcasting” does not accurately describe what we do. The new name reflects our modernization and forward momentum while honoring our enduring mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.

We recognize the overdue need to communicate the evolving, global scope of our work as well as our renewed, urgent focus on the agency’s global priorities, which reflect U.S. national security and public diplomacy interests. USAGM is an independent federal agency that provides accurate, professional, and objective news and information around-the-globe in a time of shifting politics, challenging media landscapes, and weaponized information. Our identity and name will now address these realities.

The decision to change our name was a result of thorough research and extensive consultation with numerous internal and external stakeholders, including the BBG Board of Governors, agency staff and leadership at all levels, the five networks, Congress, the Administration, and interagency colleagues.

As with the BBG, the U.S. Agency for Global Media encompasses five networks: the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Television and Radio Martí), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). These networks collectively reach an unduplicated weekly audience of 278 million people in 59 languages and in more than 100 countries. Insulated by a firewall from political influence, these networks will continue to deliver truth and professional journalism to people living in some of the world’s most closed societies.

Now more than ever, people around the world need access to the truth. USAGM continues to tell the truth, and illuminate the world like no other news organization in the world.

Video: Lansing On USAGM

Click here to view on YouTube.

Learn more about U.S. Agency for Global Media 

For more information

Nasserie Carew

US Agency for Global Media Public Affairs

202-203-4400

publicaffairs@bbg.gov

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