The Board welcomed for the first time Andrew Lack, who joined as CEO and Director in January 2015.
“I feel really good about where we are headed,” said Chairman Jeff Shell, remarking on the newest board members and the arrival of Andrew Lack as CEO. “Our new board members each bring their own expertise, and Andy is an icon in the news business who understands the essence of what we do — the content.”
Shell also welcomed Ambassador Karen Kornbluh to her first official meeting of the BBG. Kornbluh was sworn in after the Board’s December 17 meeting and succeeds Governor Michael Meehan. The board today adopted a resolution honoring his service to the agency.
Along with other threats to BBG journalists, the board discussed troubling developments in Azerbaijan. On December 26, Azerbaijani police raided and closed the RFE/RL Bureau in Baku. On February 13, new charges were brought against Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor, who remains jailed in pre-trial detention and if convicted could receive a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. RFE/RL’s bureau remains closed, its accounts frozen, and several Baku staff members have left Azerbaijan.
“While Khadija demonstrates fierce resolve, we are deeply concerned and outraged by the Azerbaijani government’s flagrant assaults on press freedom,” Shell said.
Discussing the challenges BBG journalists face in the field, BBG CEO Andrew Lack shared observations from his trip with BBG Governor Ken Weinstein to Kiev and Prague. Lack described “the strong work being done by our people in the field,” and praised the “exemplary collaboration between RFE/RL and VOA in covering Ukraine.”
In addition to Board business, the Voice of America gave a presentation on its activities and accomplishments in the past year. VOA Director David Ensor, along with journalists from the Kurdish, Persian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and English services as well as digital media, demonstrated how the network is expanding social media engagement and mobile distribution, responding to information crises in West Africa, Ukraine and Russia, and expanding its successful affiliate model in Latin America and elsewhere.
VOA Deep Dive
About the BBG
The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), an independent international media organization overseen and funded by the US government, puts objective, professional news and information content to work on behalf of U.S. global interests and national security. USAGM networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa) and the Open Technology Fund. USAGM programming has a measured audience of 354 million in more than 100 countries and in 62 languages.