Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy · Strategic Communication · Strategic Communications

Assessment of Broadcasting Board of Governors 2016 Annual Report


Rather than blindly broadcast the report, available for download here, I read the entire 76 page report and want to report a few findings. 

My initial sense of confusion is the date, it’s a 2016 report and we are a few days away from July 2017. Then I considered this is a Washington DC agency and works at the speed of bureaucracy. Even so, this is 2017 and this report should have been generated months ago. 

My initial draw to reading the report is a reference to “impact” in the advertisement circulated, copied and pasted below. It refers to Measurements of Impact, which goes the next step beyond Measurements of Effectiveness.  This is a huge step in the right direction, as the BBG only reported Measurements of Performance for what seemed like forever.  There is a link in the ad, below, which allows you to click straight to the website and read more of the details. Alas, little detail is given. Then I saw the link to download the entire report, and I was hooked. 

When I read the section on impact, I had to first scroll past pages and pages of descriptions of what the BBG is doing and where. Of course my main interest is Russia, which was on a map showing where there had been censorship and where the BBG tries to reach, but there were no details. Only a handful of details were available with very many countries in blue, showing cases of censorship. One of the cases cited in the report was one day of censorship.  Pshaw, one day?  You can do better than that. So, my first suggestion is to populate a living, breathing online document, with links to actual reports, of cases of censorship.  This same report should be shared with all the bureaus for distribution worldwide. Knowledge is power and the more indigenous people know about the oppression of their governments, the more power they have.  This should not be politically contentious, as links to BBG and subordinate bureau reporting and organic reporting should be already common knowledge. I was stunned at the lack of detail showing impact, however.  The BBG had a two day summit on impact in February of 2016, yet there are only a handful of examples of impact in the report. Post links to pages showing more impact. There should be a constant quest for examples of impact and every finding should be accompanied by a BBG Public Relations release – immediately – do not be a 2017 antiquated bureaucracy.

This is 2017 and this is a 76 page report full of pictures, but there is still a dearth of useful information, especially about impact.  There were “highlights”, there were a handful of representative cases illustrating points made, but there no links.  There were no links available to discover more details about the points made.  BBG, this is your one case to be made to not only the American people and to Congress, but to the world.  You can provide the details needed to justify more necessary money. More important, you can tell the world that you are providing fair and objective reporting, countering disinformation and misinformation, and having an actual impact.

Bottom line at the bottom, this report is a great start and I am pleased to see great improvement in performance and the initiation of Measurements of Impact and for Current Time, the new Russian language program. I am saddened, however, at the initiative lost by not making more details available and not allowing concerned readers to research more about the impact you have on the world, especially in denied areas. You need to be a PR machine, selling yourself and selling America.  If Sputnik cites you. If RT makes fun of you. If Putin mentions you, you are having an effect in Russia and the world needs to know. If Kim Jong Un, Mearir, or KCNA uses one of your reports, tell the world. BBG, this is fair and objective reporting amidst an information war and you are a witting combatant.

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The BBG 2016 Annual Report details the agency’s activities and growing impact around the world.

2016: A Year of Impact and Transformation
in a Challenging World
“This is a very important time for U.S. international media. We are carefully weighing pressing national security concerns, government-wide spending constraints, and the need to fine-tune our operations to deliver more impact.” 

John F. Lansing

CEO & Director, Broadcasting Board of Governors
Download the Full Report
Visit BBG_s 2016 Annual Report companion website
One of the _Je Nifanyeje_ stringers reporting on an important issue she feels is endangering her community.
The BBG emphasizes measuring the impact of its programs and activities, putting the audience first and holding itself accountable. Our Impact Model features more than 40 indicators to measure impact beyond audience size.
A man sitting on a gravel road and holding a radio.

The BBG targets its resources strategically to address the information needs of audiences in Russia and the post-Soviet space, China and areas affected by Chinese activities, Iran, and Cuba, as well as those facing violent extremism.

BBG networks brought together leaders from across the agency to collaborate on strategic topics like impact and social media. BBG leadership meets to discuss the agency_s social media strategy at the 2016 Social Media Summit.

The leaders of each of the BBG’s five networks met regularly throughout the year and established communication systems to improve content sharing and coordination of coverage in many target areas, including the U.S. presidential election.

Thank you for exploring and sharing BBG’s 2016 Annual Report.
 
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Broadcasting Board of Governors, 330 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20237
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