Correcting historical narratives a focus of USAGM board meeting
WASHINGTON—Just one day after the world marked 30 years since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the United States Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) Board of Governors met and discussed ways in which its networks not only cover current events, but also help people living in unfree media environments better understand their often government-controlled or buried histories.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) President Libby Liu presented two new programs aimed at setting the record straight in mainland China. The first program is a series on Tiananmen Square that brings to light the facts of the 1989 protests led by pro-democracy students and the Chinese government’s violent crackdown. The Mandarin-language series, which also profiles children of the now-grown student protestors and discusses the legacy of those demonstrations, aired in the lead up to the historic anniversary. The second program is a series on the history of Uyghurs in China, the ethnic Muslim minority that suffer systematic, state-sponsored oppression. Millions of Uyghurs remain detained in political re-education camps in China’s Xinjiang region and their history in China is often distorted by the Chinese government. The RFA series is the only objective, in-depth and domestically broadcast production that covers their background and culture.
Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) Director Tomas Regalado showed highlights from a recent investigative series looking back on the last 60 years of the Catholic diocese in Miami and how it aided Cubans who came to Miami after the 1959 revolution.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Acting President Daisy Sindelar featured the network’s new documentary series on the history and future of the internet in Russia and its impact in the post-Soviet space and beyond. The project is especially timely given the upcoming implementation of a new Kremlin-regulated “sovereign internet” that will effectively empower the government to remove content or platforms it finds unacceptable.
In addition to providing accurate historical programming, the USAGM networks continue to provide uncensored current news and information as well as life-impacting content. Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) President Ambassador Alberto Fernandez showed the work of its new investigative team, which uncovers important and underreported stories throughout the Middle East.
In a similar vein, Voice of America (VOA) Director Amanda Bennett detailed VOA’s recent partnership with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to provide English-language training for Rohingya teachers and students in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
In addition, CEO John F. Lansing shared updates on the reform measures currently underway at OCB based on a recent report by a panel of independent experts. He also spoke of the recent U.S. Senate (link) and House of Representative (link) resolutions emphasizing the importance of press freedom and USAGM’s role in informing, engaging, and connecting people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.
“I’m proud of the work our networks are doing to focus on these key issues and audiences,” said Lansing. “I’m sure the Board appreciates the progress we’ve made toward achieving our strategic goals.”