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VOA Director Addresses the Role of the Media in an Age of Disinformation

Amanda Bennett standing (right) at the Wilson Center.
Amanda Bennett standing (right) at the Wilson Center.

VOA Director Amanda Bennett joined Jane Harman, president of the Wilson Center, a non-partisan policy forum in Washington, D.C., for a discussion regarding the public’s eroding trust in the media in an age of disinformation and "fake news."

During the conversation last week, the speakers acknowledged that while people around the world believe the media should be unbiased, many do not believe media organizations deliver accurate, objective and reliable news. As a result, “fake news” has become a common term - a term that Bennett abhors for, as she said“if it’s fake, it’s not news.”

Bennett provided the attendees with an overview of VOA, its mission and some of its current initiatives, including efforts to expand VOA’s reach through innovative digital communications.

She explained that there is a distinct difference between government-funded media like VOA that is required by U.S. law to serve as a reliable and authoritative source of news and government-controlled media that exists in countries where access to a free press is intentionally limited or even banned.

Bennett remains optimistic about the future and the public’s trust in the Voice of America. She said, “People are reaching out to us. They are looking to us. They are actively pushing past things that are preventing them from finding us.” By offering a range of content, such as the fact-checking website, the Extremism Watch Desk’s global terrorism news coverage, and original content in 45 languages, VOA ’s audience continues to grow and expand around the globe.“People are looking for something that they can trust,” said Bennett, “and they have found that in Voice of America.”