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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights: February 16, 2023

VOA Turkish Earthquake Coverage Generates Record Audience Engagement on Digital Platforms

Audience engagement on VOA Turkish social media platforms has risen sharply driven by the service's earthquake coverage. Video views on YouTube surpassed 8 million, and the Facebook engagement rate reached 1.5 million in the last week. The service’s Twitter and Instagram interactions increased by 746% and 570% respectively, since the earthquake, as the audience flocked to obtain objective information about the disaster. Reporter Onur Erdogan’s video story about Iskenderun residents calling for help for their loved ones has generated 1.8 million views on Facebook since February 6.

Collaboration on Turkey/Syria Earthquake Boosts Audiences

The VOA News Center worked in close collaboration with the Turkish and Kurdish services to cover the recent earthquake in southeast Turkey, rescue efforts, and displacement, producing more than 30 news items on this story in 10 days. The social media team featured original content on YouTube, including drone footage (205,000 views), as well as reports about U.S. response teams (75,000 views), the rising death toll (39,000 views), and the frustration over slow rescue efforts (15,000 views). In addition, the News Center arranged more than a dozen live interviews on this topic for Indian affiliates NDTV and CNBC-18, Nigerian affiliate Channels, as well as VOA’s Urdu and English to Africa services.

VOA Ukrainian’s Coverage of Zelenskyy’s European Tour Dominates News Cycle in Ukraine

VOA Ukrainian’s on-the-scene coverage of President Zelenskyy’s trip to London, Brussels and Paris was carried by all major media outlets in Ukraine. London correspondent Bogdan Tsioupine reported live for VOA’s platforms, including seven live interactives for Ukrainian media, presenting the U.S. and European perspectives on Zelenskyy’s appeal for more aid and support as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated Russian offensive. In Washington, VOA Ukrainian interviewed former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Gordon Davis, who said newly provided military assistance can change the situation on the frontlines. Coverage garnered more than 182k views and 28k interactions on social media during the last week.

Nicaraguan Political Prisoner Release Coverage Attracts 1.7M+ Views

Audiences flocked to VOA Spanish breaking news team coverage of the release of 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners, generating more than 1.7M social media views in four days. Correspondents at Dulles airport, Capitol Hill, the State Department and in Costa Rica reported on the identities of those freed, their arrival to the U.S., the Biden Administration’s response, Nicaragua’s denial of U.S. negotiations, ex-presidential candidate Juan Sebastian Chamorro’s on-arrival comments, and the released political prisoners' future plans in the U.S. Popular content included photo galleries of Nicaraguan diaspora members waiting at the airport and a Facebook Live with a former prisoner (64K+ views). TV Azteca in Mexico and other VOA Spanish affiliates incorporated VOA live shots in primetime newscasts.

VOA Mandarin’s Story on Beijing’s SOTU Censorship Catches Eye of U.S. Embassy in China

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing picked up VOA Mandarin’s report that China blocked excerpts of the President's address that VOA posted on WeChat and Weibo. The service was among the first outlets to report China’s action, and the story quickly caught the embassy’s attention. It tweeted VOA’s story on February 9 and followed with a similar tweet from Ambassador Burns himself the next day. The tweets have nearly 1.4 million views combined since February 9, and the article itself garnered 1.6 million Twitter views, with some frustrated netizens telling Washington to retaliate by banning WeChat in the U.S.

Comprehensive Coverage of World Radio Day Draws Interest to VOA Africa's Digital Platforms

Africa division services comprehensively covered and promoted World Radio Day on all of their websites in coordination with TV and radio programming. Highlights included English-to-Africa polling its online audience on how they typically listen to the radio. 63% of the responders in this unscientific poll said that they are listening to FM frequencies, 17% said they are accessing radio through a mobile app, 10% said they are listening to shortwave and only 7% said they are listening to medium wave (AM) frequencies. A listener from Mozambique commented: "VOA's role is very important in building a well-informed society. What I like the most about VOA Portuguese is that they give me fresh and trustworthy news.

Live Broadcast of “Future of Iran’s Democracy Movement” Event in Washington Engages the Audience

VOA Persian’s live coverage of the “Future of Iran’s Democracy Movement” event at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace, and Security garnered more than 2.3 million engagement actions on digital platforms during the past week. The Institute’s Executive Director, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, condemned the violent suppression of those fighting for women’s rights in Iran. Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the families of flight PS752 victims, Prince Reza Pahlavi, actress Nazanin Boniadi, and Masih Alinejad were among Iranian democracy movement leaders discussing their common goal to neutralize the Iranian regime. VOA Persian's Payam Yazdian hosted experts’ analysis and Kambiz Tavana interviewed activist Mehdi Hajati.