USAGM Watch Commentary
A post on the Voice of America (VOA) Alumni Group Facebook page provides evidence from current and former employees of a long-lasting severe morale crisis at the U.S. taxpayer-funded media outlet managed by longtime VOA executives and senior managers at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which is the federal parent agency of the Voice of America.
Comments about persistent mismanagement and poor leadership were collected from the Glassdoor site and posted on the Voice of America Alumni Facebook page on July 3, 2021. The comments cover the period from 2008 to 2021. Glassdoor, which claims 80 million monthly unique visitors, helps people find jobs and provides insights about jobs and companies.
Some of the current Voice of America and U.S. Agency for Global Media executives being discussed on Glassdoor by employees and contractors have held senior management positions at VOA and USAGM for many years, in some cases for more than three decades.
In 2020, these longtime executives and managers tried to blame the Trump-appointed USAGM CEO, who had served there only a few months, of causing employee morale problems. With the end of the Trump Administration, many of the current VOA and USAGM executives have returned to their previous or new management positions.
Recent statements from members of Congress and some media reports about new scandals at the Voice of America involving violations of the VOA Charter seem to indicate that members of Congress and media are no longer accepting claims from the current VOA/USAGM management team at face value.
The Voice of America Alumni Group Facebook page post seems to support the argument that low employee morale has developed under their watch over more than a decade.
Record-low employee morale ratings were also found at VOA and USAGM in multiple government-wide Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys (FEVS) going back many years when some of the current executives held key management positions. These surveys are conducted among employees by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
VOA Alumni is primarily a group for former Voice of America employees, and ex-USIA [United States Information Agency] who may have served at VOA, to exchange views, including constructive criticism, about the history and present-day operations of VOA and the agency now known as USAGM. This group is private (see Facebook definitions) but visible to anyone doing a search on Facebook.
For a number of years, the Glassdoor site has carried reviews of the Voice of America by former and current employees.
These are an interesting glimpse at longstanding problems at VOA and USAGM (former BBG). Some excerpts:
July 1, 2021
Good pay, flexible work, beware of defamation of character in reviews
Pros: Ability to work remote, flexibility of work load. Good pay.
Cons: Lying by defamation of character within performance reviews. No platform of defense to clarify.Advice to ManagementAllow contractors a platform of explanation and defense of accusations in performance reviews before termination. Its completely unethical, and unprofessional.
March 2, 2021
Pros: Money, benefits, unmatched job security, good life/work balance, space to make mistakes and learn
Cons: Toxic, disorganized, lack of purpose
February 23, 2021
Pros: Diversity of staff fantastic to work with
Cons: Managers who are unprofessional and overly bureaucratic
Propaganda Media Masquerading as CNN
Pros: Opportunity for career stability, overseas travel, and an actual pension if you become a lifer
Cons: Still weighed down by management officials who should have retired years ago. A thuggish bureaucracy laden with corruption in which officials shelve investigations into waste, fraud and abuse. Archaic, out-dated programming that is not competitive with the BBC.Advice to management: Retire to allow a thorough cleanout of decades of corrupt practices and dysfunction.
Jun 26, 2018
Pros: They can’t fire you. Good health benefits.
Cons: TV like its 1975. A Potemkin Village. The absolute worse management in the federal govt.
Advice to Management: Retire!
April 17, 2018
Avoid this place if you are serious about journalism
Pros: Good life/work balance, diversity
Cons: I worked in one of the language services. Upper management doesn’t speak my language and has no way to know whether a particular story is good or not. The only way upper management can evaluate a language service’s work is through the number of clicks they generate. While user engagement is one indicator of the quality of your journalism, it doesn’t tell you the whole story because often times in-depth reporting with thorough investigation won’t generate as many visits as a clickbait junk piece. And because the upper management cannot distinguish between the two, the language services often focus on clickbaits rather than quality content (which takes longer time, better planning and judgement). So you will be discouraged from pursuing interesting stories. And frankly no one cares about the quality of your work. Everyone seems to be culling out and killing time at work.
July 25, 2015
Can Be Rewarding But Huge Internal Management Problems Devastate Morale
Pros: Good for someone interested in global affairs
Cons: VOA has, in the view of many, outlived its usefulness and is filled with negativity among employees, driven by managerial incompetence, decades of nepotism, and the loss of its previous high reputation as a news organization.
Advice to Management: Shut the place down and start over
June 13, 2008
Government dysfunction at its best
Pros: International recognition — and it’s an institution, though it used to be a much more respected institution
Cons: Extremely low morale and negativity in workplace.Overall laziness of workers – people do the very bare minimum to get by.Advice to Management: Quit sticking your heads in the sand and give a damn about your employees. It would help tremendously if you gave them some affirmation every once in a while. Ruling by fear (for your own job) and ignorance does not cut it. Governmental appointee managers do not have [VOAs] interests at heart at all.