Saturday, May 19, 2007

6% Budget for Web at Voice of America

I will have to go back through my notes to remember who gave this bit of information out. I'm just back from Washington, DC where I attended among other events Congressman Adam Smith's 9th district day. It was an engaging array of speakers and excellent information. I also got to walk the whole of Washington Mall from the Capital Building to the Lincoln Memorial.

But the information that was given was that the Voice of America has 6% of their budget assigned to online and internet communication. If true, then I think that is too low. The Voice of America (VOA), is the official external radio and television broadcasting service of the United States federal government.

As they describe themselves...
"The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people."

I'm not making a content judgment. It could even be argued that their charter is for radio and television communications, and therefore budget considerations for the web are secondary. It might also be pointed out that they do allow for some podcasts and internet streaming.

But is that enough? The web has emerged as its own media source, outside the repurposing of traditional media programming. Much of what we see is consumer generated, organizationally provisioned messaging as well as programming specifically created for the web.

It just strikes me that if your mission is to provide information that is effective to a global audience, the piece of the budget pie for web based communications needs to be greater than a percentage in the single digits.

3 comments:

Lukas Grove said...

6% is sad number if they truly want to be a 'voice' that's heard. Though, some numbers have shown only 11% or so of Americans get their news from the internet (http://blogs.zdnet.com/ITFacts/?p=11840)
they should still be spending at least that much then on voicing them selfs through the web medium. Even if it is only 11%, that number is growing, other numbers are not.

Lukas Grove said...

Also, this just came to mind, the internet is a much cheaper method of relaying news and information. 6% might be due to the fact that it only takes 6% as much to get all the same information online, as it does to pay for television and other sources.

Andrew Fry said...

You make excellent points Lukas. I deliberately stepped around the political overtones of the topic, but something you say resonates as pertinent. The inexpensive nature of net communications and it's anonymity make it the communications tool of choice for those who plan to do us the greatest harm. If that is the medium they choose to recruit and market, then the Voice of America should be bettering them in their own space.