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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights: February 23, 2022

Audiences Rely on VOA’s Live, Fast-Paced Coverage Providing U.S. Reaction to Russia's Aggression

As Russian forces pushed into Ukraine, VOA’s Ukrainian and Russian services rose to the challenge providing live, expanded coverage of the rapid developments surrounding the crisis that garnered more than 3 million views and more than 71,000 interactions on digital platforms. VOA coverage included live broadcasts with simultaneous translation in Ukrainian and Russian of President Biden’s remarks and Secretary Blinken’s address at the U.N.; live interactives to meet increased demand by Ukrainian affiliates; live reporting from diaspora events in support of Ukraine in Washington, Los Angeles and New York, as well as in Kyiv; eyewitness reports; daily expert analysis; and U.S. lawmakers’ reactions. VOA Ukrainian added more than six hours of programming last week, including a new program, VOA Briefing, streamed live on social media twice daily, providing news updates and explainers to an active and engaged audience.

VOA's Insight on Russia’s Relations with Africa Resonates with Audience

VOA Africa produced an in-depth web and TV story across its services on the complex approach Russia is taking towards the Africa continent. The story was opportune and timely given the latest developments in countries like Mali where the presence of a Russian mercenary group has been reported. The "Russia in Africa" special premiered with strong metrics on the division’s digital platforms. Its English version reported a cumulative total of 100K views on Facebook since its release, while its Bambara version totaled more than 154,000 views thus far and more than 7,800 engagements.

VOA's Coverage of Taliban Anniversary Draws Millions of Viewers

Led by VOA Deewa, at least 12 million social media users across South Asia viewed VOA's original reports, exclusive interviews and videos describing life in Afghanistan six months after the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the return of the Taliban. According to CrowdTangle, VOA Deewa’s daily programs and added-value video content earned 5.2 million views between February 15th to 17th on Facebook alone. VOA Afghan's views grew to 4 million on the service's Dari and Pashto Facebook pages. VOA Urdu's unique coverage received more than 3 million views. Total engagement for VOA Deewa, Afghan and Urdu exceeded 1 million. Each service also saw spikes on other digital platforms and pick-up on local media outlets.

Media Outlets in Africa Pick Up VOA's Reporting on Developments in Ethiopia

An article by reporter and editor Salem Solomon was featured in the Flashpoints section of Politico's daily national security newsletter, crediting Salem and VOA. The article described civilian casualties caused by Ethiopian drone strikes in the Tigray region, including one that killed 17 women at a flour mill. The story was picked up by AllAfrica, NewsBreak, Noovell News, Republican Nigeria, Africa Top News and other local sites. It was translated into Amharic, Tigrigna and Afaan Oromo and broadcast back to the region. Another article by Salem Solomon about potential U.S. sanctions on Ethiopia was featured in AllAfrica, NewsBreak, Daily Advent and other outlets.

VOA Persian's Coverage of Leaked Recording About IRGC Corruption Attracts Significant Audience

VOA Persian covered the story of the leaked audio recording of senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders discussing corruption. The expose by Radio Farda resulted in infighting among top Iranian officials. VOA reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei denied the veracity of the recording. VOA Persian interviewed two experts: Rasoul Nafisi said that the audio recording has been confirmed as authentic by IRGC. Yohanna Najdi said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg…more people are involved…at the top of the regime.” VOA Persian's “Last Page” show covered this topic in detail. Total audience engagement on digital platforms surpassed 1,130,700.

VOA Mandarin Engages the Audience with Reporting on Recognition of Outspoken Basketball Player

Mandarin’s coverage of the 2022 Freedom Award ceremony for Enes Kanter scored big – generating 110,000 views on Twitter. The honor was bestowed by rights groups for Kanter’s criticism of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs. Kanter, who added “Freedom” to his name, has been shunned by the NBA, which has lucrative business ties with Beijing. Rights activist Reggie Littlejohn told VOA the NBA puts profit over principle, contrasting that with the Women’s Tennis Association – which backed star player Peng Shuai after she accused a CCP member of sexual assault.

Spanish Service’s Media Partners Appreciative of the Service's Ukraine Coverage

VOA Spanish reporters in Washington and New York provided 70+ daily live and recorded reports to affiliates. VOA broadcasted live up-to-the-minute information generated by the White House, the U.S. Congress, the State Department and the United Nations. “As U.S. has been involved in this conflict, reports from the Voice of America are critical to our audience”, said Artear TV in Argentina. “The reports from VOA have given our audience a unique perspective from the United States. VOA’s brand of comprehensive reporting is essential covering a crisis of this nature”, said Televen in Venezuela.