The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Board of Governors met yesterday at the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to review key programming initiatives and distribution strategies. The meeting was the first for Grant Turner in his role as USAGM’s CEO and Director.
CEO Turner provided the Board with an overview of recent examples of compelling programming and banner initiatives from the USAGM’S five networks.
Included in the programming updates were Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) extensive coverage of the recent Afghan elections; the Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ (MBN) reporting on recent Iraqi protests, despite active and credible threats to Alhurra journalists; and a compelling Radio Free Asia (RFA) documentary that follows North Korean defectors as they escape to Laos to seek asylum.
Acting Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) Director Emilio Vazquez presented a modernized approach to branding and programming for TV and Radio Marti, including two new documentaries targeting young, media-savvy audiences.
Voice of America (VOA) Director Amanda Bennett highlighted the impactful reporting produced by the network’s stringers on the Syrian-Turkish border, many of whom have faced extraordinarily difficult circumstances and great personal risk while reporting.
“Our stringers are extremely valuable, especially on the front lines” added CEO Turner. “And one of the reasons we’ve set up our USAGM Association is to assist stringers who are in danger or in unfortunate cases, assist surviving family members.”
At the start of the meeting, Chairman Weinstein congratulated the winners of the 18th Annual Burke Awards, who were recognized in a November 13 ceremony. He also recognized the most recent threats to USAGM journalists, which ranged from physical attacks and accreditation problems to imprisonment. In solidarity with PEN America’s Empty Chair Day, Chairman Weinstein reserved a chair for RFE/RL Ukrainian contributor Stanislav Aseyev, who was captured by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine two years ago and recently sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp.
“The risks our journalists take are a lot harder than any of us can imagine,” said Chairman Weinstein. “I look forward to welcoming him [Aseyev] here to Washington when he is eventually released.”