Tags: David Ensor | voice of america | congress | ed royce | mission

David Ensor Resigns as Chief of Struggling Voice of America

Image: David Ensor Resigns as Chief of Struggling Voice of America
David Ensor, Director, Voice of America. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 11:35 AM

David Ensor, director of the Voice of America (VOA), has announced that his four-year reign over the troubled agency is coming to an end.

The announcement is yet another shock to the beleaguered VOA, coming amid pressure from Congress to reform its mission so as to provide more support for U.S. policies, a planned skit that would have had Ensor lampooning former VOA employees critical of the agency, and staff and budget cutbacks, The New York Times reports.

In a press release announcing Ensor's departure, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which also oversees Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, noted that under Ensor's supervision, VOA's audience has added 42 million listeners, up to 172 million, created new programming in Ukrainian, Persian, Mandarin Chinese, Burmese and Creole and other languages, and increased its digital presence.

Ensor, 64, a former NPR, ABC News and CNN reporter, and former director of communications for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, did not give a reason for his leaving nor discuss his future plans during a Tuesday meeting with staff. He will stay on the job through the end of next month, the Times said.

He is the second executive to leave in recent weeks. Andrew Lack, BBG chief executive, left in March for NBC Universal just 42 days after starting that job, the Times reported.

Ensor was slammed by the watchdog group BBG Watch, which found emails planning a satirical skit Ensor delivered in December at a holiday party held on government time, blasting former VOA employees critical of the BBG.

The party "likely cost U.S. taxpayers several thousand dollars in lost work time and other expenses," BBG Watch said. 

It continued: "It is disturbing, however, that leaders at a federal agency charged with supporting free press abroad choose to spent tax money on trying to discredit citizen journalists in the United States rather than use their time and tax dollars to advance the actual media freedom mission of the VOA and the BBG."

Congress is expected this year to take up legislation — which passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate — calling for VOA to provide more support for U.S. public policy, which critics say will turn the government-funded VOA into more of a propaganda arm than an independent news outlet, the Times reported.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, said, "While countries like Russia have been working 24/7 on their information campaigns, V.O.A. has abandoned its mission to effectively promote the policies of the U.S. even though its charter is clear in this regard," the Times reported.

Former BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson told the Times, "Russia has returned to its old Pravda-like disinformation tactics, China and the Arab nations are creating sophisticated new broadcasts and Twitter and social networks are changing the game."

Royce has sought backing from Secretary of State John Kerry to get administration support for his efforts to reform the BBG, the broadcast agency's watchdog group said.

Kerry told Royce at a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Royce chairs, "All I can say, Mr. Chairman, I’m with you 100 percent on this."

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David Ensor, director of the Voice of America, has announced that his four-year reign over the troubled agency is coming to an end.
David Ensor, voice of america, congress, ed royce, mission
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2015-35-08
Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 11:35 AM
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