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VOA Programming Weekly Highlights, May 11, 2023

VOA Afghan World Press Freedom Day Coverage Generates 14 Million Views

VOA Afghan’s special coverage of Taliban restrictions on media, widespread censorship, and the dangers facing Afghan journalists generated a total aggregate of 14M views on Facebook from May 1 to May 7. As part of this special coverage, Foreign Policy journalist Lynne O'Donnell described her experience in the hands of the Taliban whose arrival to power has accompanied the targeting of international broadcasters. “I may have been the first foreign journalist to be detained and interrogated by the Taliban and forced to make false confessions on video and on Twitter,” O'Donnell told VOA.

Story on Mali's Purchase of Chinese Military Equipment Boosts VOA French's YouTube Presence

An original French-to-Africa video about Chinese military equipment purchased by the Malian government and delivered to its military has garnered impressive social media metrics. The video generated nearly half-a-million YouTube views from April 28 to May 8, making it one of the top 10 most-viewed videos on the VOA Afrique YouTube channel this year. Additionally, during this performance period, the video helped generate more than 800 YouTube subscribers. This type of reporting underscores the importance of, and demand for, coverage of China’s growing role in Africa.

VOA Persian Covers Labor Protests in Iran, Draws Large Audience Response

VOA Persian covered ongoing labor strikes in which tens of thousands of laborers were protesting in more than 14 Iranian provinces. VOA Persian journalists spoke to labor activist Behrouz Farahani about workers’ demands and poor working conditions. Arian Risbaf reported on netizens' remembrance of Iranian workers who were killed. VOA Persian also produced special programs on the 2023 Labor Strikes and workers’ worsening livelihoods. Roozbeh Bolhari reported on the expansion of strikes and protests nationwide on International Worker’s Day. Audience engagement on digital platforms surpassed 963,704 from May 1 to May 8.

High Engagement for VOA Mandarin’s Coverage of Campaign to Tear Down Great Firewall

“Let the Chinese people have the human right to know,” commented one viewer of VOA Mandarin’s interview with exiled journalist Qiao Xinxin. Qiao founded the “Ban GFW” movement, which urges netizens and governments to help dismantle the CCP’s vast Internet censorship system known as “The Great Firewall.” The interview, which came as Reporters Without Borders ranked China second to last on its World Press Freedom Index, generated 115K views and 24K engagements on Twitter alone from April 30 to May 8.

VOA's Coverage Generates Wide Interest as War in Ukraine Intensifies

VOA Ukrainian broke the news on Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov’s statement on NATO summit expectations, garnering 34 citations in local media, including Ukrayinska-Pravda, and Speaking at an Atlantic Council conference, Reznikov said there is no alternative to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, and voiced his hope that the decisions of the Vilnius summit would also include security guarantees to Ukraine from NATO and the alliance’s continued commitment to providing for Ukraine’s immediate defense needs, among other things. A report on Secretary Blinken’s recent statements on Ukraine generated 25 citations, including,, and Per affiliate request, VOA journalists conducted live interactives for Ukrainian channels ICTV, Suspilne, Radio NV and Espreso to explain U.S. elections and the budget process and how they impact U.S. assistance for Ukraine. VOA Ukrainian’s exclusive interview with U.S. veteran Alexander Drueke, who was captured by Russian forces while fighting in eastern Ukraine, garnered 875K views and 71K interactions on digital platforms.

VOA Spanish's Coverage of Press Freedom Challenges in Latin America Draws 56K+ Views

In partnership with LatAm affiliates, VOA Spanish produced the series "A Free Press Matters" for World Press Freedom Day, highlighting challenges that journalists face in 20+ countries where governments and organized crime have muzzled their freedom of expression. The series features an interactive map; journalists’ personal accounts, such as the threats on Francisco Castellanos Javier’s life; concerns that El Salvador's government allowing content creators to attend Congress sessions could lead to propaganda disguised as information; and video responses from Costa Rica and Nicaragua about why a free press matters. Coverage exceeded 56K views across VOA's platforms.

News Center Coronation Coverage Attracts Large Audiences

Coverage of King Charles III’s coronation included 21 television, radio and web reports, a photo gallery, and 26 social media posts across multiple platforms that attracted 685,300 views and engagements from May 4 to May 10. Henry Ridgwell filed a preview, coronation wrap-up and spot report from the scene and provided five live hits for affiliates and VOA language services. Foreign dignitaries, including U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, attended the traditional ceremony, which included many faiths and languages. Military personnel gave royal salutes, and the king and queen greeted jubilant crowds. However, the coronation drew apathy and criticism in some former colonies.