The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging congressional leaders to preserve the editorial independence of Voice of America. A multimedia news outlet funded by Congress and America’s largest international broadcaster, Voice of America has recently become the target of White House attacks.
“Any attempt by government officials to interfere with the independence of publicly funded media raises the specter of state control and coercion, which should be anathema to all Americans,” the Reporters Committee stated in an April 28 letter sent to leaders on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We ask you in your oversight role to protect VOA’s autonomy.”
The Reporters Committee’s letter describes how the “firewall” protecting VOA’s editorial independence is in place so that its reporting is trusted by viewers, readers, and listeners around the world — not merely seen as government propaganda. It also specifically notes the importance of editorial independence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During a public health crisis the government should be leaning into, not away from, protections for the editorial independence of news organizations,” the letter states, “especially when those organizations receive government funding, a group which may grow as Congress addresses the economic fallout from the ravages of COVID-19 on local and regional media.”