"There have never been more exciting options for VOA's worldwide audience," said VOA Director Danforth Austin. "We've added as many new media technologies as possible in 2008, allowing people to access VOA's news and information when and how they want. And we're busy exploring new options for 2009."
With intense interest in the 2008 U.S. elections, VOA created a specially designed, interactive website, www.USAVotes2008.com, where visitors posted comments, responded to questions and engaged in discussions. VOA also posted special web pages seeking viewer reaction, including a Persian site that asked Iranians to send messages to President-elect Barack Obama.
VOA, which every week broadcasts more than 1500 hours on radio, television and Internet in 45 languages to an audience of 134 million, launched a variety of other programs and projects in 2008 including:
- El Mundo al Dia (The World Today), a daily 30-minute Spanish television program for Venezuela, Colombia and other Andean nations.
- Going Green, an environmental webcast showing what people around the around the world are doing to promote green technology.
- In Focus, a new 30-minute television program for Africa.
- An interactive, live program with Pakistan Television Network (PTV) examining the U.S. presidential debates for Urdu speakers.
- A daily show examining the economic crisis for Metro TV, a national network in Indonesia.
- Kunleng, a weekly, hour-long TV show on culture, politics and news for Tibetans.
Meanwhile, VOA's Internet site (www.VOANews.com) was rated high in customer satisfaction, earning a score of 76 out of 100 from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, administered by the University of Michigan Business School and ForSeeResults. The survey was based on a popup questionnaire on VOA's English website during November. The score is equal to or better than those received by most commercial news and information sites.
The VOA site also ranked 5th among news sources for Google News, according to Newsknife, a New Zealand-based research organization. Others top sites were The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters and The Washington Post. Results were released earlier this month.
Blogging provided another direct link with VOA audiences in 2008, with interactive pages in several languages including English, Persian, Russian and Chinese. And independent bloggers, often in countries with restrictions on broadcasting, pick up VOA content. A Chinese blogger recorded nearly a half million views and over one hundred comments on a VOA story.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.