As the Russian invasion of Ukraine got underway at the end of February, audiences in Eastern Europe and around the world turned to Voice of America television, radio, websites and social media sites for factual, on-the-ground reporting.
The response from VOA’s audience has been extraordinary. Since the beginning of the invasion on February 23, VOA Russian reports nearly 17 million video views on social platforms, a 159% increase from the previous period, while VOA Ukrainian reports 5.7 million video views, an increase of 87%. VOA Russian garnered more than one million engagement actions across its social media platforms in that time. Traffic to both websites has soared, with VOA Russian’s site growing 146% and VOA Ukrainian’s site increasing 94% since the invasion.
Shortly after VOA Russian set a one-day traffic record across all platforms on February 24, Russian regulators announced their intention to block VOA and other independent news outlets. As a result, not only did the use of circumvention tools suddenly soar in Russia in recent days, but golosameriki.com set another one-day site traffic record on March 3.
Interest in the invasion of Ukraine is not confined to just these two countries. Other regions where VOA broadcasts that are typically disinterested in news from the region are suddenly transfixed. Since the beginning of the invasion, the story has generated 178 million video views and more than 18 million engagement actions, across VOA’s hundreds of social media accounts. For example, reporting on the subject in Africa has generated more than 17 million video views on social media on an account that typically averages about 125,000 views in a similar period. Across Latin America, interest in the story drove the vast majority of the 12 million video views on social media platforms used by VOA Spanish since the invasion, an increase of 125%.
This historic growth is due to the extraordinary work of VOA journalists in covering this story. Responding to the critical need for timely and accurate information, VOA Ukrainian expanded its programming, featuring twice-daily live briefings and dozens of live interactives. As the Russian troops were crossing into Ukraine, VOA Russian was live on the air with two special digital programs featuring reports with people at risk and experts providing analysis. A special edition of Current Time America, and a live feed from the U.N. Security Council generated more than 3 million views on VOA Russian’s Facebook page alone, with the service’s website garnering nearly 2 million views.
Since the Russian invasion, both language services deliver critically important programming daily, including live coverage with simultaneous translations of remarks by President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg , U.S. lawmakers’ reactions, special live discussion shows, and reports from Ukrainian diaspora protests in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami and London in support of Ukraine.
“The Voice of America offers audiences in eastern Europe accurate reporting from the ground and access to a balanced, comprehensive coverage on how the conflict resonates in the U.S. and around the world” says Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lόpez. “True to its history and mission, VOA is providing the people of Ukraine and Russia, as well as all its worldwide audience, reliable news in this critical time in history.”