Washington, D.C. — Voice of America’s Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat, with contributions from VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara, Congressional Correspondent Katherine Gypson and Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Michelle Quinn, won the National Press Club’s 2021 Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism. The award citation notes “their thoughtful and deliberately in-depth coverage of how the former U.S. Agency of Global Media CEO, Michael Pack, a President Trump appointee, attempted to dismantle the organization’s editorial independence.”
The mission of the Voice of America is to provide unbiased news in regions of the world where a free press is a rarity. VOA broadcasts to some of the most censored places globally, including China, Iran, and North Korea. VOA’s reporting for foreign audiences generally goes unnoticed in the U.S. news cycle, but its role as a bastion for free press became a national news story in the final years of the Trump administration when former USAGM CEO Michael Pack took actions related to VOA’s statutory firewall, including stopping the renewal of J-1 visas for newly hired foreign-born journalists that allow them to live in the U.S. and work for VOA.
As reporting on its own News Center and network is difficult, VOA took several steps to ensure that the editorial teams working on the stories remained neutral, balanced, and free from any conflicts of interest. Additional layers of editing and protocols ensured all sides were given ample opportunity to respond to allegations. The VOA News Center delved into the difficult task of reporting on itself, while also covering very important news stories breaking at the time, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election, and protests over racial justice.
“Voice of America’s decades-long commitment to independent and balanced journalism is powerfully underscored by our News Center team’s recognition through the National Press Club’s press criticism award,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lόpez, who was Director of the VOA News Center at the time of former CEO Pack’s appointment. “For our global audience in almost every corner of the world, the Voice of America represents what a free press looks like and we’re determined to continue on this path regardless of which story we’re covering.”
The National Press Club’s awards formal announcement event will be held online in January 2022.
Voice of America reaches a global weekly audience of more than 326 million people in 48 languages. VOA programs are delivered on satellite, cable, shortwave, FM, medium wave, streaming audio and video and more than 2,350 media outlets worldwide. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through USAGM.
Find out more
Contact Bridget Serchak
Director of Public Relations, Office of Public Relations