Calling on the BBG to Affirm The Primacy of Good Journalism

By Alex Belida The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will hold a special telephonic meeting tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 11) to decide on an interim successor to Walter Isaacson to act as “Presiding Governor” of the Agency.  Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, resigned as Chairman of the BBG on  Jan. 27th, stating he was “taking on another big writing project, so I won’t be able to give the BBG the time it needs and deserves.”

Isaacson’s departure was considered a major loss as he was the only Governor to speak out consistently on the importance of good journalism in U.S. International Broadcasting.

It is incumbent upon the remaining Board members that they use the opportunity of selecting an interim successor to endorse Isaacson’s words on the primacy of good journalism in carrying out the Board’s duties:

"It’s sometimes said that our international broadcasting is in a difficult position because by law and by tradition it’s tasked with two separate missions that might conflict: first of all, covering the news with the highest journalistic standards and secondly, being a part of America’s public diplomacy by accurately conveying its policies and values to the world.

"Let me say to you, my fellow journalists, that I will stress and we will stress the primacy of the first of these missions, our mission of being credible journalists, because it is the best – in fact, it’s the only way to carry out the second mission. You can’t do it unless you’re credible and telling the truth, and in the end, the truth is on our side. Credibility is the key to all that we do."

Isaacson’s statement came in September 2010 at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of Radio Free Europe. The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, Radio Sawa, and Alhurra TV.

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Alex Belida is a former correspondent and news executive who worked in U.S. International Broadcasting for 40 years.

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