Washington, D.C. — U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Michael Pack implemented critical changes on his first day to steer the agency back toward its mission: “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
Addressing the staff through an introductory email, Pack focused on his three goals: making the agency more effective; ensuring that nothing interferes with the ability to report the news; and improving agency morale. He reinforced his commitment to honoring the VOA’s charter, missions of the grantees and independence of the heroic journalists around the world.
Pack’s message was met with an overwhelmingly positive response by staff and grantees, who personally reached out and candidly congratulated him. One noted, “you emphasized that we all have a mission that unfortunately some have forgotten in recent and past years, to the disgrace of all.” Another said, “I am sure that with your arrival we will be able to rejuvenate our agency, to get rid of any bias and partisanship, and will be able to adequately transmit America’s image and ideas to the outer world.”
Hours later, Pack effected a series of significant and long-overdue actions to keep assurances to restructure the agency, fully in accordance with the law. As in every transition, Pack brings a leadership team that is committed to eradicating the known mismanagement and scandals that have plagued the agency for decades.
In 2013, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that the agency “is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.” Following this and similar pleas, a bipartisan bill was proposed and approved by Congress envisioning a completely new management structure for the agency. Three years later, President Obama signed that very bill that consolidated the board into a single chief executive, and explained that the reform “streamlines… operations and reduces inefficiencies.”
“Every action I carried out was – and every action I will carry out will be – geared toward rebuilding the USAGM’s reputation, boosting morale, and improving content,” said Pack. “I made a solemn promise to Congress, to the President, and the American people to execute this plan. Indeed, I am not doing it unilaterally. To the contrary, this plan is wholly pursuant to the bipartisan language that was developed and approved by Congress and the previous administration, both of which readily recognized that the agency had grown obsolete and ineffective implementing its statutory mission.”
These transitional steps are precisely what every new leader of an organization does; however, it was received differently, because the Senate confirmation of Pack was delayed almost three years due to obstructionism.
What matters now is doing right by the profession of journalism, the nation, and people around the world who yearn for accurate and reliable reporting.
“We will press ahead now as that is the charge with which we have been bestowed by all stakeholders, and we will do so with enthusiasm, knowing what will happen when the talented men and women of the agency are once again empowered with resources and inspired by a clearly enunciated vision that faithfully flows from the charter,” concluded Pack.
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