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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights: March 3, 2022

Millions Turn to VOA for Live, Fact-Based Coverage as Russia Intensifies Its Attacks on Ukraine

Audience numbers on VOA’s Russian and Ukrainian platforms skyrocketed, registering an historic jump in traffic as the services provided live, fast-paced coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and U.S. reaction. VOA Ukrainian’s increased programming, featuring twice-daily live briefings and 58 live interactives, garnered more than 6 million views on digital platforms, and Thursday’s Current Time America, as well as Wednesday’s live feed from the U.N. Security Council generated more than 3 million views on VOA Russian’s Facebook page alone, with the service’s website garnering nearly 2 million views. As Russian troops crossed into Ukraine, VOA Russian was live on the air with two special digital programs featuring reporters and experts providing analysis. Since the invasion, both services have provided comprehensive coverage, including live simultaneous translations of President Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg remarks, U.S. lawmakers’ reactions, special live discussion shows, on-the-scene interviews with Ukrainians, and reports from Ukrainian diaspora protests in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami and London in support of Ukraine.

VOA's Ukraine Invasion Coverage in English Results in Significant Digital Traffic Increases

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted huge spikes in traffic to News Center platforms. From February 23 to 27, the News Center's four social media platforms totaled more than 2.3 million video views (a 271% increase) and 255,000 engagements (a 300% increase), including a 551% increase for Facebook engagements. The English website had more than 400,000 article views Thursday and Friday, almost three times the daily average for February. Reporter Steve Herman had more than 162,000 views for his article comparing current events to the start of World War II and the Cold War.

EAP Coverage of War in Ukraine Draws Audiences in the Millions

Traffic across all multi-media platforms soared as EAP language services churned out up-to-the-minute, comprehensive and original stories on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Vietnamese service’s reporting on the war and Vietnam’s stance on the conflict received more than 3 million total views on Facebook. Video clips of VOA Mandarin’s interviews with a U.S.-based rights activist and a Taiwan-based Sino-Russian researcher giving their assessments of the crisis, garnered 156,000 total views on Twitter alone. VOA Indonesian’s story of a family fleeing the conflict was picked up by 35 affiliate and garnered 3.4 million views on Facebook.

VOA’s Ukraine Coverage Resonates with South & Central Asian Audiences

All eight SC&A services saw significant increases in web and social media traffic as Russia invaded Ukraine. Visits to VOA Turkish's website jumped 76% with a live blog and coverage of anti-war protests in Istanbul and Ankara. VOA Uzbek exceeded one million clicks on the service's website with stringer Malik Mansur reporting from Kyiv. VOA Deewa trekked a stranded Pakistani student, earning 828K views on Facebook. VOA Urdu’s Facebook videos reached 1.5M viewers. Kurdish news outlets Awene, Lvin Press, Xendan, Bwar News, Xelk Media Network, Kurd IU, and NRT cited VOA's coverage. VOA Afghan and Bangla gave voice to stranded refugees.

Audience Engagement Increases to VOA Persian’s Coverage of the War in Ukraine

VOA Persian covered the Russia-Ukraine crisis with a combination of 17 experts providing analysis, two special news programs hosted by Payam Yazdian, and daily reports from our Kyiv correspondent Ana Raiskaya. In addition, Guita Aryan covered the European response from Vienna. Mehran Barati an international relations expert, said that the U.S. should sanction Russia with the same types of sanctions placed on Iran. VOA Persian also created a live blog, posting updates 24/7 on the war in Ukraine. Audience engagement on all digital platforms surpassed 2 million.

Interviews with Africans in Ukraine Resonate with Audience

A multi-division story about the African migrants’ ordeal in Ukraine featured more than 10 interviews with African students and workers, capturing fear and panic as they made plans to flee the conflict to Poland. VOA Somali conducted two interviews with Mahmoud Arab, a journalist in Kyiv, both before the invasion and as his family was fleeing. The two pieces garnered 286K video views on Facebook. Interviews with Zimbabwe students Phillimon Chizororo, Prudence Chinemo, and Laison Moyo generated a total of 87K video views on Facebook.

Spanish Service’s Ukraine Coverage Focuses on the Impact of Sanctions on Russian Allies in Latin America

Juan González, White House National Security Council senior advisor on Latin America, explained that “U.S. sanctions will impact governments that have economic affiliations with Moscow. Venezuela is going to start to feel that pressure, as well as Nicaragua and Cuba," he added. Jon Piechowski, advisor to the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, reiterated the impact of sanctions in the region. The stories were shared by digital affiliates as well as Univision and the Miami Herald.