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
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
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.