Last year, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which is overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), aired a blatantly anti-Semitic video segment about George Soros that was deeply offensive and wholly inconsistent with our professional standards and ethics. OCB should have never aired it.
When the breach of conduct was brought to my attention, I asked that those deemed responsible for the segment’s production and broadcast be immediately placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation into their apparent misconduct. A comprehensive human resources investigation of the incident is now complete. One employee and three contractors have been terminated to date, and the agency has initiated the standard disciplinary process for four additional OCB employees.
In addition, I have ordered a review of all OCB content going back several months to further strengthen programming, and identify and address any patterns of unethical, unprofessional, biased, or sub-standard journalism at OCB. To that end, USAGM commissioned a team of independent experts to conduct an objective, third-party content audit of OCB’s coverage in Spanish across all platforms. A final report is expected in three months and will be made public. The audit panel includes the following experts:
- Edward Schumacher-Matos (Chair)—Director, Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University;
- Roberto Suro—Professor of journalism and public policy, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California;
- Laura Castañeda—Professor of practice, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California;
- Andrea Sarralde—Emmy-nominated journalism expert and former Telemundo journalist; and
- Maria Fernanda Sandoval—social media expert and Latin American specialist.
In addition, OCB appointed a new Central News Director, Jorge Jauregui, who will lead the newsroom in reinforcing editorial and ethical standards and implementing long-term newsgathering strategies. We have also initiated the search for a Standards and Best Practices Editor, a new position at OCB, to provide oversight of OCB’s editorial and journalistic processes. In the interim, the Voice of America’s Editor for News Standards and Best Practices has held mandatory training for all employees involved in content and programming. The Anti-Defamation League also provided training to OCB employees. Other training covering fairness, objectivity, balance and bias in coverage, and will be required for all OCB employees going forward.
USAGM is mandated by law to abide by the highest professional standards of broadcast journalism. All of our networks, including OCB, support the Agency’s mission of informing, engaging, and connecting people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. Adhering to our journalistic values of accuracy, fairness and balance is fundamental to that mission.
I am committed to ensuring a thorough and transparent investigative process and using recommendations from our independent content auditors to improve competencies and enhance professionalism throughout the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, including further disciplinary actions as warranted.