When President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address before Members of Congress, executive branch leaders and special guests in the U.S. Capitol, millions of Americans tuned in. Blocks away, Voice of America ensured that the speech's audience didn't end at the US border.
VOA journalists covered the annual address in 48 languages for audiences in nearly 100 countries, which include some of the world's most media-hostile environments and most volatile hotspots.
Via VOA's live simultaneous translation, Ukrainian audience members heard Biden declare, "We stood with the Ukrainian people." Biden's five mentions of China were relayed to the country with additional context by a Mandarin-speaking reporter standing in front of the Capitol dome. The president’s assertion that "unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela has come down 97 percent" was noted to audiences speaking Spanish, Haitian Creole and dozens of other languages.
VOA's coverage on web and social media platforms, along with television and radio broadcasts, garnered swift responses from varied locations. The US Embassy in Ukraine tweeted "Thank you" to VOA Ukrainian. A Facebook user from Uganda wrote "This is what makes America the leader when it comes to democracy."
"State of the Union is always one of our busiest nights of the year," said acting VOA Director Yolanda López. She remarked that "the ability of VOA to share this speech, an American institution that goes back to President George Washington, with our audiences overseas, speaks to the heart of our mission: to tell America's story. But it goes beyond that -- it allows us to build bridges between distant corners of the world through objective and comprehensive journalism."