Other Matters: The Voice of America

The Bush administration’s attempt to use the war on terrorism as an excuse to destroy the Voice of America angers me. I sent the message below to my senators and congressman and a few other senators who I thought might understand what’s at stake. I hope that you will consider taking similar action. Most of the senators’ and representatives’ web sites provide easy ways to send them e-mail messages.

I urge you to fight the Bush administration’s budget cuts that would result in the Voice of America stopping or reducing English Language news broadcasts. At a time when the US image around the world is soiled, we need continuation of the objective shortwave news programs whose very existence has informed millions about our nation, not to mention helping them learn English so that they might better understand what The United States of America stands for. This proposed budget cut would effectively disable one of the few official cultural exchange vehicles left to us. Please discuss this with your Senate and House colleagues and do all that you can to preserve the VOA.

I am unaccustomed to doing this sort of thing, in great part because a life in journalism has conditioned me to maintain public objectivity in matters of public policy. However, objectivity in this matter won’t get me, or you, or the United States anywhere. For the facts in the story so far, and quotes from both sides, go here.
Even on the opinion page of The Washington Times, rarely noted for reservations about Bush policies, the alarm is going up about this misguided move.
Now that the administration is chipping away at the VOA with the apparent aim of dismantling or neutering it, I don’t suppose there is a snowball’s chance that one of the Voice’s major heroes will get a presidential medal of freedom posthumously. Willis Conover still deserves it, as he did when he was alive. To read why, go here.

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