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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights, September 1, 2023

Zimbabweans Turn to VOA for Unbiased Coverage of Country’s Controversial Presidential Elections

Over the course of the election, which took place on August 23, VOA Zimbabwe and VOA English delivered up-to-the-minute reporting on the presidential elections with radio and television packages, voter vox pops, interviews with political analysts and election observers, livestreams of events in Zimbabwe, and more than 30 Facebook Lives. With stringers based all over the country, VOA Zimbabwe provided original videos from polling stations, with one video generating 414K Facebook views, 10K reactions and 2.6K comments from August 24 to August 29.

Viewers Debate Pros, Cons of Raimondo’s Visit to China on VOA Mandarin Platforms

“If Washington agrees to help China, it could be a fatal mistake,” says a viewer in response to VOA Mandarin’s reporting on U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s attempt to reset ties while standing firm on protecting U.S. interests. “Cooperation is a win-win situation,” said another of the secretary’s visit as Beijing’s economic crisis ripples across the globe. VOA Mandarin’s expert analysis on Chinese expectations of Washington prompted yet another to warn that “China does not want goodwill, only what benefits its interests” in response to Mandarin’s interactive tweet. Social media coverage provided footage of Raimondo’s arrival, breaking news updates, including her agenda for the trip, details of her meetings with Chinese officials, and a profile of Raimondo and her stance on China.

VOA’s Value-Added Coverage of Prigozhin's Fatal Plane Crash Draws Viewers

VOA Russian and Ukrainian responded to the breaking news that Wagner Group leader Evgeny Prigozhin's plane crashed in Russia with prompt, valued-added commentary. VOA secured a live interview with Russian investigative journalist Mikhail Maglov, who previously reported on Prigozhin’s planes, and in-depth expert analysis by Georgetown University’s Angela Stent and Columbia University’s Kimberly Marten. Through their analysis, Stent and Marten both concluded that Prigozhin’s elimination was just a matter of time. The Atlantic Council's Daniel Fried told VOA that Prigozhin’s death testifies to the strength of Putin’s position in the short term and his ultimate weakness of showing how the Russian system is based on murder. "Coverage, including a Current Time America report with the latest developments, garnered more than 1.6 million views and wide engagement on social media within 48 hours (August 23 – August 25).

News Center Republican Debate Coverage Generates Interest

Chief national correspondent Steve Herman provided on-the-scene reporting from the first Republican debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Herman’s preview piece noting that former President Donald Trump was likely to upstage his opponents even if absent from the debate was republished by Newsnet Daily (USA), and corresponding video was featured on Mizzima (Burma). His web story about the candidates, minus Trump, sparring sharply on the debate stage was picked up by Big News Network (UAE), Bota Sot (Kosovo), and by news aggregator Flipboard (USA). The Independent (UK) published Herman’s tweet quoting candidate Chris Christie in its live news blog.

VOA Persian’s Special on Recalling Iran's WWII Occupation Engages the Audience

VOA Persian aired a one-hour special program commemorating the anniversary of Iran's occupation during World War II. Titled "Occupation of Iran in World War II: Territorial Integrity" and hosted by Siamak Dehghanpour, the program featured expert historians discussing the occupation of Iran in September 1941 by Soviet and UK forces. Furthermore, the program delved deep into the pivotal role played by the United States in the withdrawal of Soviet Union forces from Iran. The program generated 403K video views across all digital platforms between August 24 and August 28.

VOA Kurdish Coverage of Activists’ Arrests Cited by Numerous Media Outlets

In an interview with VOA Kurdish, Dindar Zebari, Kurdistan Regional Government’s Coordinator for International Advocacy, denied allegations of political interference with regard to the continued detention of Sherwan Sherwani and Gohdar Zebari. “No external or internal actor has the right to interfere in the affairs of KRG judicial system because the KRG courts are independent,” Dindar Zebari told VOA in response to these accusations. VOA Kurdish coverage was cited by 24 media outlets, including Peyam TV, Hawlati News, Xelk Media Network, Kurd Vision, Awene, Zhyan, Shar Press, Spee Media and Westga News.