Trylon Communications  - March 2006
       

Voice of America -- Voiceless?

Perhaps not since the frostiest days of the Cold War has the United States needed such an effective way to communicate to people around the world as the Voice of America, the government’s official broadcasting service. And at no time since then has there been a worse time to restrain it.

Since its beginnings in 1942, Voice of America has been a bastion of journalistic excellence around the world, broadcasting objective news reports in English via short wave radio. Despite an increased budget, the board of governors may be cutting the English language programming back substantially, virtually eliminating it on many continents.

The board is focusing now on satellite television and the Internet, the media that it considers to be the future.

The board’s argument to cut back on English-language broadcasts makes some sense, as it wants to increase native-language broadcasting to areas of conflict such as the Middle East. As previously discussed (see story) the U.S. is losing the war of perception in that arena. It must certainly address the issues of emerging media and the opportunities to reach more people.

So why not expand VOA to meet the current technological and cultural needs in light of the issues the U.S. faces? In large part, the War on Terror is a war of ideas. The VOA remains an essential avenue in making sure our ideas reach as many ears as possible.