VOA Persian's Challenges and Opportunities (2)


VOA Persian's Challenges and Opportunities (2)
by Payman Dailami

As mentioned in my earlier blog, regardless of the recent rumors of mismanagement at Voice of America's Persian Service, it is a known fact that the network's programs and productions have been on a serious downward spiral, with fewer and fewer people watching. By contrast, since its 2009 establishment, BBC Persian television not only has produced much better programming than VOA, it has been able to build audience loyalty with its more serious journalism and more professional anchors.

It is not clear what exactly ails the VOA Persian Service, but whatever it is, it prevents the network's considerable budget to produce effective programming. The network seems to have only one Ace in its deck, the weekly half-hour satire show, Parazit. But Parazit has also been going downhill in its quality and presentation, particularly over the past couple of months.

The network's management seems to think that they need more of Parazit. That is a miscalculated judgement. Parazit has based its entire content on the anger Iranians have harbored against the rulers of Islamic Republic, most particularly after the disputed 2009 presidential election, and as such it has filled a large vacuum the BBC was too conservative to fill. But more Parazit can't take the place of the much needed expert political analysis for the network. It cannot fulfill the need for accurate reporting and good news monitoring services. A satire show with dwindling viewership cannot take the place of serious journalism, long absent at VOA Persian Service. If rumors about VOA's investment of millions of dollars in providing more staffing and a brand new New York studio for Parazit are even partially true, it is yet another poor management decision for VOA Persian. Parazit was at its best when it was small, with just Saman Arbabi and Kambiz Hosseini and a couple of other people producing it. VOA would be well advised to spend the taxpayers' dollars on hiring quality journalists and anchors and motivating them to stay and to increase the failing network's viewership.

Below is a recent example of how VOA Persian wasted a great opportunity at acceptable journalism. Both VOA and Persian Services were given a chance to interview US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week. Whereas the BBC sent a real journalist to interview the Secretary of State, VOA sent Kambiz Hosseini, host of its comedy show.

There was nothing satirical about the interview with Hillary Clinton to warrant the comedy show host's conducting the interview. The interview could have been done by a more seasoned anchor, one with better English skills. When the interview was aired on Wednesday night, October 26, absent the satire program, Kambiz Hosseini's silly shoes seemed out of place, and his short and well-rehearsed questions delivered in a heavy accent were reserved and distant. Were there no seasoned anchors to do this job for VOA? One wonders whether Hillary Clinton even knows that the network under her oversight does not have any real journalists to conduct a professional interview anymore. By contrast, Clinton's interview with the sparkling young BBC interviewer, Bahman Kalbasi, was so much better managed, interesting, and informative. 

Below see the BBC Persian's interview with Hillary Clinton:

And the VOA Persian's interview with her.  Decide for yourselves:


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Nader Vanaki


by Nader Vanaki on

With the budget cuts it is facing and the change in management, VOA will no longer be a viable news source on Iran.  The dog and poney show called Parazit can not elevate itself to a level of journalism that will educate its audience and it is absolutely correct to state that it is only to vent off bullt up frustrations with the current state of affairs in Iran, and nothing else.

The interview with Hillary Clinton is a good match between Kambiz Hosseini's casual happy go lucky attitude with his sneakers being the perfect stage decoure for Hillary's air headed babble.  It could just as well be an MTV production.  Not one serious issue was rasied and Hillary can not even provide an answer for the embargo against Iranian civil aviation.  This is the perfect waste of air time for both.

My advice to all at VOA Persian's staff is to prepare resumes and start interviewing.  This program is going no where fast.  Take it from Jamshid Chalangi whose pompous and self righteous attitude did not elevate him to the anchorship of any major news network, but guided him out the door to greener pastures.  We will be seeing him on Persian Shopping Network soon, selling mositurizing cream and home appliances.