Archive | April, 2013

Happy Willis Conover Day!

Whereas, on April 25, 2009, the Big Band Jam will honor the Voice of America and Willis Conover and the joint contribution toward spreading the language of jazz and American cultural diplomacy around the world over a span of more than 35 years;

In April 2009, a resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives proclaiming April Jazz Appreciation Month, and April 25 to be Willis Conover Day.

April 25 was Willis Conover Day! Find out more about Willis Conover, and his legacy in cultural diplomacy and international broadcasting, by watching the VOA YouTube clip up top and reading about him on Inside VOA & What’s Up VOA.

Yesterday the VOA House Band put on a program to commemorate this important day!

Do you have a personal memory of Willis Conover? What does jazz mean to you? Please leave us a note in the comments!

BBG Broadcasters Provide Unique, Global Coverage of Boston Bombings

Running shoes hang on a fence at a makeshift memorial near the Boston Marathon finish line in Boston’s Copley Square Thursday, April 25, 2013 in remembrance of the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


Each of the broadcasters in the BBG network provided breaking news on the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon and the resulting manhunt. Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks immediately sent reporters and camera crews to Boston to get important information to their audiences. Extensive coverage included eye witness accounts from bystanders, runners and first responders, as well as global reaction to the identification of the suspects. Hover over the image above to learn more, or visit to read more!

RFE/RL Celebrates Havel Fellows, Discusses Press Freedom in Eastern Europe

 David Kramer directs questions to the Havel Fellows Gotisan (left), Stepanyan (center) and Taghiyeva (right) during a panel discussion April 9


Media freedom was celebrated last night as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty held a panel discussion entitled “Media Freedom in the European Neighborhood: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova” last night, April 9, 2013, at the Embassy of the Czech Repulblic that featured this year’s recipients of the Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship.

Havel fellows, Seda Stepanyan from Armenia, Tahmina Taghiyeva from Azerbaijan, and Irina Gotisan from Moldova, served as panelists and discussed the freedom of press in their own countries. The event was moderated by David Kramer, President of Freedom House, which compiles an annual report, Freedom in the World, on the state of global freedom.

The Fellows also presented videos that they had produced, demonstrating their excellent journalism and multimedia skills.  Following the presentations and a round of questions prompted by Kramer, the discussion was opened up to the audience.

Gotisan responded that she and the other Fellows could be optimistic about the future because they are, “young and smart” when an audience member asked about the potential for increased freedom in Eastern Europe. Each of the Fellows agreed that the legacy of the Cold War and their nations’ transition to democracy still play a role in the level of freedom enjoyed, but they were also enthusiastic that programs like the Havel Fellowship helped to encourage objective journalism.

Fellows Gotisan and Taghiyeva discuss press freedom with John Todoroki of the Prague Freedom Foundation


This is the second year in which Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has awarded the Havel Fellowship. This year’s recipients have extensive experience working in journalism in their home countries.  The program is open to promising journalists with English fluency from the Russian Federation and the European Partnership Countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.  Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and offer on-the-job training alongside RFE/RL’s seasoned professionals.

Voices from the Field: André de Nesnera

André de Nesnera in the VOA news room, Washington, D.C.

“In 1986 I was in East Berlin, on my way to a meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).   I met a Canadian man, Jim Worrall, who was attending the meeting as part of the Canadian delegation to the IOC.  Worrall also attended the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin 50 years earlier as Canada’s flag bearer. The 1936 Olympics was the Olympics that Hitler used to promote the Third Reich.  This was the Olympics in which Jesse Owens competed as an African American man in Nazi Germany.

1936 Berlin Olympics, photo courtesy of German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project.

I took Worrall back to the stadium in West Berlin, the original stadium that was used in 1936. We went, and he started to reminisce. He pointed out where Hitler stood during the opening ceremony, and he talked about what it felt like to be in Germany at the time, before the war began. He was emotional, and there were tears.  It was a stream-of-consciousness and quite remarkable.  I had a small tape recorder at the time.  I turned it into a radio story.  It was really well-received because it was such a unique story. I’d trade top-notch interviews for moments like that.”


André de Nesnera is an award-winning journalist that has worked as a reporter for Voice of America for more than three decades in Europe and domestically in the United States.  In 2002, U.S. Foreign Service officers honored de Nesnera with the Tex Harris Award for Constructive Dissent for resisting political pressure from State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher and other U.S. officials after VOA ran excerpts of a 2001 interview with Mullah Mohammed Omar, a Taliban leader at the time. The story also earned de Nesnera a Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism from the University of Oregon.  He currently serves as a Senior Correspondent at VOA.

Voices from the Field: Tarek Elshamy

Tarek Elshamy reporting from Tahrir Square

“During the dangerous days of covering the 25 January revolution, international journalists were under attack and Alhurra was no exception. A mob stormed Alhurra’s Cairo news office where all our team was camped out reporting on the always changing events minute by minute. It was believed that Mubarak’s regime was trying to stop transmission of TV channels that gained credibility during the revolution. While we were on air a mob tried to storm the office and tried to scare the team. Most of the team climbed out onto the balcony and jumped across to the roof of a hotel that was next door to escape. However, we stayed on the air. I tried to prevent the mob from coming into the offices, but they did get in and went on to steal some equipment and threatened to attack us again if we continued our coverage. However, we were not deterred and continued our nonstop coverage as usual. I also told the story on air to let everyone know that we will not be intimidated.

Alhurra’s coverage of the Egyptian revolution was one of the only places that Egyptian viewers could turn to watch the events as they happened without bias. A phone survey of Egyptians in Cairo and Alexandria showed that 25 percent of the respondents had watched Alhurra during that time as a source of news and information about the revolution.”

Tarek Elshamy is the Cairo News Bureau Chief and Chief Correspondent. He is the host of  “Hiwar Cairo,” a weekly program in Cairo, Egypt that examines the  political and social aspects of the country on the Alhurra network.  The program hosts a wide range of figures, including state ministers, heads of political parties, presidential candidates and others. El Shamy has received awards from the London based Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) as well as the David Burke Award for the distinguished coverage of the Egyptian Revolution.