voice of america

Voice of America (VOA), the jewel in America's public diplomacy effort abroad, is set to be streamlined. Some programs can be downsized. But VOA is in the national interest, especially as Russia, China, and Iran expand state-supported media. Cuts should be handled with care.

Voice of America rolled out a series of new programs at a briefing here this morning, highlighting “OMG!”, a new youth-oriented program aimed at China, where, according to its host, it is sometimes called “OMG: Oh My Lady Gaga.”

Voice of America’s Burmese Service is reporting a sharp increase in direct visits to its popular webpage since Burma’s government lifted firewall restrictions in September. Burmese Service Chief Than Lwin Htun says visits to VOA Burmese language social media sites, including Youtube and Twitter, have also increased.

Voice of America and other American international broadcasters now reach 187 million people every week, an increase of 22 million from 2010 and an all-time record number of listeners and viewers, according to data released yesterday.

Voice of America’s Creole Service updates its lineup of programs to Haiti this week, with new segments focused on engaging its increasingly youthful audience and examining critical issues including the economy, health, public safety and education.

Every day brings a new gantlet thrown down by China to American leadership. Thursday, it was of China’s launch of a rocket containing elements of its new space laboratory, images that will be exploited to their full potential in the service of Chinese public diplomacy.

A petite blond Midwesterner, who is not Chinese and only began studying the language five years ago, became an iconic translator of American slang for pop-culture-hungry Chinese fans. The popularity of the show, called “OMG! Meiyu” and produced by Voice of America, has not escaped the notice of the agency’s executives, who recognize that hip and eccentric programming is vital to connecting with youths.

On October 1, 2011, Voice of America’s (VOA) Chinese radio service will go silent, as U.S. international broadcasting abandons the airwaves and moves to the Internet. In the burgeoning age of new media, many...seem to be questioning the continued relevance of shortwave radio.