Passage of the Infrastructure legislation on November 5 was truly historic—surely the biggest boost ever to bringing high-speed broadband to every American household. While we get about the job of building broadband, we need to take up other communications issues that have been of even longer gestation and which have just as much, maybe more, urgency for our country. High on my list is media reform.
The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, Chief US District Judge for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell has ruled. Citing the journalists' First Amendment protections, Judge Howell ordered US Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service's news coverage and editorial personnel matters.
A regulatory "firewall" intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside by Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who assumed leadership of the US Agency for Global Media in June.
When PBS arrived a half century ago, television was essentially a three-network game, and PBS thrived by championing programming and audiences ignored by NBC, CBS and ABC. But that distinctiveness has faded in today’s world of hundreds of cable channels and seemingly unlimited streaming services, many built after rivals saw the commercial value in PBS’s embrace of food lovers, costume drama obsessives, home improvement tinkerers and other niches.
House Democrats unvieled an updated version of the Heroes Act as a way to revitalize stalled talks over another COVID-19 pandemic relief measure. The $2.2 trillion bill would provide:
Dozens of foreign nationals working as journalists in the US for Voice of America, the federal government's international broadcaster, will not have their visas extended once they expire. Michael Pack, the new CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, signaled he will not approve the visa extensions. The foreign journalists are particularly valued for their language skills, which are crucial to VOA's mission as an international broadcaster.
US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Michael Pack implemented critical changes on his first day to steer the agency back toward its mission: “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” Addressing the staff through an introductory email, Pack focused on his three goals: making the agency more effective; ensuring that nothing interferes with the ability to report the news; and improving agency morale.
Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who recently took over a United States global media agency, removed the chiefs of four news organizations under its purview (Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia; Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting), according to people with knowledge of the decision, in an action that raises questions about their editorial independence.
The Senate confirmed Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who President Donald Trump has said he hopes will dictate more favorable news coverage of his administration, to lead the United States Agency for Global Media, the independent agency in charge of state-funded media outlets.