• 13 March 2008
  • Posted By Ali Scotten
  • Diplomacy, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

As I read an article on Voice of America’s English website that objectively discusses sanctions as a strategy of foreign policy, I couldn’t help but ask myself, Why is it that VOA Persian can’t uphold that same standard of journalism?

In the article, Brian Wagner interviews a credible source from the Department of Treasury who does not believe sanctions have been effective:

Michael Jacobson, is a former official in the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. He says U.S. and international sanctions have curtailed Iran’s foreign business, but it has not hurt the government.

“There it has been less effective to this point,” said Jacobson. “Iran has not completely backed down from its nuclear ambitions and that is the key question is whether or not that will happen.”

However, he also ends the article by referencing others who still believe in sanctions:

While imperfect, some say the embargo remains one of few tools Washington can use to pressure Cuba’s government to change.

“I don’t think from an academic point of view that I would be ready to give up my last piece of paper, as weak as it is, without asking for something in return,” Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at the University of Miami.

This is Journalism 101. In a news piece, it is a reporter’s job is to report the facts and present an objective view of an issue. It is then up to the reader to make up his or her mind.

Perhaps VOA Persian will one day learn from their Voice of America colleagues and interview credible individuals like Jacobson from the Department of Treasury rather than the same old MEK and Monarchist supporters. Until then, at least VOA Persian provides for some good entertainment.

Posted By Ali Scotten

    25 Responses to “Why can’t VOA Persian be as good as the English version?”

  1. nader says:

    Thats because they think Iranian people living in Iran are ignorant.

  2. You make a really good point, Ali.

  3. Ali Scotten says:

    For those of you out there who watch or listen to VOA Persian, what are your opinions?

  4. Alireza says:

    I write from Iran – we watch VOA less and less here. It is becoming a joke. In fact, it is quite insulting. Their standards used to be ok, now they are the last outlet dominated by neoconservatives and war-mongers.

  5. Babak Talebi says:

    I was at an event today which featured a new poll conducted by TerrorFreeTomorrow about Iranian attitudes towards a wide range of issues…

    it was interesting that the organization who conducted the poll did not ask about Iranian’s attitudes about expatriate media outlets… nor VOA/RFE.

    I’m looking forward to someone doing a poll on this issue inside Iran

  6. Mark Pyruz says:

    I read in Hossein Derakhshan’s blog that VOA recently had Kaveh Afrasiabi on the show, defending Iran’s rights to nuclear power.

    Personally, I don’t watch VOA. Regarding expatriate media outlets, I’m a little ashamed to say that I don’t think much of what I’ve seen. The Indian media outlets I’ve seen actually offer a superior effort at entertainment. So I guess what I’m saying is there’s definitely room for improvement.

    One more thing. I recently watched part of an Iranian produced documentary on the Iran-Iraq War. It was a disappointment to see images of US tanks during OIF inserted in the storyline to represent Sadaam’s armored advance into Iran in 1980. Again, a definite need of improvement.

  7. azadeh says:

    We have to accept that the neoconservatives support MEK and old monarchists to put pressure on Iranian government, so their outlets use these people as a mean of propaganda. This shows detachment from realities on the grounds in and out of Iran and lack of oversight from the congress, or whoever provides the budget. It is not hard to come to conclusion that these two groups have a least among of support among the Iranians inside and the younger generation of expartiates.

  8. Babak Talebi says:

    Is it possible that the cold-war era tactics of public-diplomacy (a euphemism for propaganda) through nationally-backed radio and television feeds is simply ineffective in the modern era? Are there any instances of VOA or RFE that have produced results in the 17 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall? can any of you think of any?

    I think one of the purposes these relics of the TV age served was to provide information to an information-starved local populace – but with the advent of the internet, wireless, and satellite technology, that information is far more abundant even in the darkest corners of the world (did you all see the camera phone images out of Burma a few months ago?).

    So part of the problem with VOA and RFE, it seems to me, is that they have not changed their formula to meet the requirements of today’s world. As AliReza said, if people in Iran can readily subject VOA reports to scrutiny and fact checking via other means of information gathering, then VOA and Radio Farda will have to meet a higher bar for truthfulness and analysis (which they are not).

    It is important to remember though, that these outlets CAN provide a valuable service. There are a TON of problems and issues that Iranians inside Iran face that are NOT covered by internal media outlets (Human Rights violations for one). Bringing these to light could be an important role for VOA and RFE, but only if these outlets retain a legitimacy and objectivity which they have squandered.

  9. Mehdi says:

    Personally, I won’t put my hopes in VOA or any such establishment to provide truth or even something worthwhile. I recently watched a relatively older movie named “The Network.” I found it very informative because it quite clearly shows why the media, especially the mainstream type media is “slave media.” They are not free to publish what is truth or what is real. They are primarily a business and their business depends on ratings, advertisement, etc. They need to be controversial and not truthful. They need to be primarily entertaining. And they are slaves to who pays them.

    I also think that any media outlet must be able to bring people together and not create further gaps. These days any schmuck is attacking the IRI and calling it fight for freedom. There is almost nobody who is providing real and workable solutions – solutions that can be accepted by either side. The result is that the natural evolution of the Iranians inside Iran is working far better than any so-called freedom fighting group outside. I like NIAC in this regard because it essentially tries to not get wrapped up in a fight but stay clear and try to come up with solutions instead of just attacking blindly. I think that is very badly needed among Iranians. We need a medium to bring us together again, not another one to break us apart more.

  10. Far says:

    What I realy can’t understand is that it seems there is nobody to check their programs. As some of you said it is part of the government organization and so you would expect it to show the governments views and even propaganda’s, but if you look at the programs and what usualy said, they are even differ from VOA english anouncement as the government views about Iran. and I can’t imagin the US government is so far away from facts and iranian views to think that they could reach Iranians with these kind of people that are most often are the guest of the programs, most often they are people who hasn’t been in Iran for more than 20 years and give some nonsense opinions which are very scary and woul expect it from some cable chanel like fox ! Some times that i watch the program and see people like Mr. Bahar loo and some others, and how they play with “news and views”, and how they become angry and nonobjective when they hear some opinions that are not a hundred percent according to their “personal” taste, I couldn’t help my self and compare them to the people who work in Iran’s network. These kind of people would be very successful if they work for Iranian government, but if you want to compare them to professional TV hosts, I don’t think they would have the chance to work outside VOA for even one day.

  11. vahid says:


  12. Mansour says:

    I think quality provided to consumers is function of competition. If the media were free in Iran and different producers and anchors could produce and offer variety of points of views to the viewers, then the viewers would be attracted to the program of the highest quality. VOA Persian does not have to compete with any other Persian news/ commentary provider therefore, keeping a high quality becomes a challenge. By the same token in Iran the news/commentary media are exclusively in the hands of the government and high ranking officials therefore, the quality of their news/commentary programs is of the lowest.
    I very much agree with you that news must be provided to the consumers as it is, not any more not any less, free of personal opinions. I also very much agree with you that in commentary programs technical questions must be posed to the experts in the field not to someone of an irrelevant professional or educational background.
    I watch VOA Persian and I think they have the righ tools and will to improve.

  13. Farzad says:

    Because they are not highly trained professionals and consequently don’t invite professionals in their discussions whether it is political or scientific (see the program about the effect of mobile phones on….). They often resort to using their own personnel as experts on the subject of discussion. There are of course exceptions like the news and Mr. Chalangi’s wedendsdy night guests but this hardly offsets the very low quality of the rest of the programs.

  14. Afsaneh says:

    I think Farzad has made a good point. In the Round Table program about the mobile phones the invited speaker didn’t know the difference between frequency and the intensity of the electromagnetic waves and could not explain the dangers behind holding a mobile phone close to the head. I think what is actually missing in the VOA Persian service is a board of advisors constituted of professionals in different fields who would be responsible for outlining the ideas, the main points, narration and subsequently the choice of the guest speakers. An important example is the problem of Uranium enrichment by the Islamic fundamentalist in the Iranian government. The Iranian media has been deceiving the Iranian people by falsifying the nuclear issues for the past three years. They have consistently stressed the point that the west is trying to deprive the Iranian scientists by forbidding scientific research in the field of nuclear physics. The physics of A-bomb is about seventy years old and you can find it in the text books. The issue is not the prevention of basic scientific research but the process of Uranium enrichment which is to do with technology and not science. Although VOA has had numerous programs on this very hot subject, they have not been able to get this point across to the Iranian people in a clear and transparent fashion. If they had only invited nuclear physicists on their programs to answer the key questions, deliberate ambiguities imposed by the Iranian media would have been cleared up by now. Instead the key questions are always put to a journalist, an oil specialist or a political analyst who could not possibly analyze the nuclear issues as deep as a physicist.

  15. mahmod says:

    tell the obama that if he will do the same of bush have down he will get the same result because the Moslem people only surrender to God not to god as like bush or anyone else.

  16. luna abasi says:

    VOA persian is a mafia outfit, and just like all mafia organizations, they control and keep out anyone knowledgeable or with deep caring for the truth. Instead, they hire young girls and their friends — giving them the exams questions and answers ahead of time. That is why many older guys in VOA persian like to hang around after 20-30 years.

    They reserve their lie-spreading and mud slinging for anyone they feel threatened by …. THE ONLY SOLUTION IS FOR YOU TO WRITE EMAILS: DEMANDING CHANGE AND MORE ACCOUNTABILITY AT VOA.

  17. malaer says:

    i agree the oldest man in voa persian was 85 when finally he gave up but still getting tax-payer money and preventing younger person to replace him.

    He would sit and did no work,another example first TV man of round table had problem speaking his own language farsi,he was so out of touch.. many emails written to voa that why this man will not sit properly on his chair ,

    ms Gangi Aryan ,was so out of touch that they would be better as mortgage scam person

  18. abdozadeh says:

    it need to bring to attention of voa english that in farsi section will get expertise proposal and use it themselves to get contract for their own or for friend .that is cheating and against law.

  19. sam says:

    sam Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    March 2, 2009 at 12:07 am
    Attention of VOA management

    I also know of 2 cases ,first, inviting expert to make a documentary videos out side of studio and for more than 3 hours despite of he was busy and ask that he don’t trust intention of some of VOA Persian management or personal,yet they assured him VOA has changed and those were 1990 and early 2000 ,yet after he put a very comprehensive scholarly work and covered all Iranian sectors issues and comparison to that of the world,then they thank him and said it was so good and they want to show it in many segments many times ,, once again he realized after they put the program on, once again his words and speech was used by narrator without refer to him or mentioning his name nor they call back and explain why ,we demand that this expert would take this matter to board of BBG

  20. ardalan says:

    look it is not just radio farda farhoodi sex scandel or his foe baharlo that you read on net,,, this is sad way iranians are you go to any station in voa and you dont see such things ,,,so Dr gangi walked out of farhodi show last week ,this is not first time when you read you see they made good people leave and keep such as sobhani.carpet.com as oil expert talking and it is sad when he come to show and say there is no law in usa that you need to pay tax,but people as habit they pay any way,, he looks like reads alot of scam on internet and belives that it is fact.and no one check or will know this,perhaps is it he related to one of the boss in voa persian?ha,,,ha,,

    it is not just voa,read about lA radio you find same no moral when mr mohri ask college teacher give good grade to my family and i interview you all the times.or Mibodi and returning only womens call…head of voa has said we know producer want to put their own show thats why they pushed aside some new program.and this goes on as totality among we iranian ,yet they put such nice face to face when they meet you.read story of Newjersy magazine how he got the idea away from iranika,and list goes on,,yet read how innocent try to show and how holly they become,and present themselves you belive my goodness ,the word of sharlatism what it means.

  21. salam moteasefaneh degarkhabari az tazahorat to tehran nist

  22. zohre says:

    I was reading weblog on how iranian republican in Bush time doing same as iranian government by making (insider) (outsider) (khodi- ghir khodi) ,yet alwayas after many years voa persian and radio farda both in time of democrats and republican have denied Democrats voa persian will repeatedly brings Rob SOBHANI whom has no depth to any subject both in iran or out side whom claimed he is in Georgetown full porfessor but president of that university according to weblog has rejected that claim.

    mr rob sobhani and his clan like mr bahman Batmanghelejch real job has been for many years ceating disinformation as well as lie against democrats even against crucial subject of global warming ,history of Bush era last 8 years shows this very fact in voa persian,is it because sobhani has married to kambiz mahmoodi daughter?

    and why should voa be platform of just repuplican sobhani ,as mr jamshid chalangi always promote him and just as mr sajadi was trying to tell mr chalangi other than sobhani there were 2 other iranian Democrats whom were first in us history running for congress then chalangi very fast changed the subject.

  23. Parsa says:

    What is the possible intension behind voting on : آيا ايران بايد از جانب سياست جديد اتمی دولت اوباما احساس خطر کند؟
    Whatever the outcome, the ruling government of Iran will benefit from it.

  24. Reza says:

    Two years ago VOA Persian focused on environmental issues in Iran and invited video clip and photo uploads on the subject. I uploaded video clips that covered garbage dumping in a vast area of Abbos Abad forest close to Kelardasht , something of an environmental disaster. Subsequently I was bombarded by Arash Alai’s strange questions and inquisitions while he never made a single reference to the subject of my video clips. Moreover, in his programs he consistently played down the severity of environmental issues in Iran and tried hard to blame it on the people and not the government of Iran. Reza.

  25. Reza says:

    Tafsire khabar with Mr. Chalangi was the best program on VOA. What happened to it?! There are a number of characters who openly support the Mullahs in Iran and yet are allowed to continue and work at VOA. That is why VOA Farsi has been losing its popularity amongst the viewers and now this recent action is the epitome of anti-Iranian sentiment in VOA Farsi language.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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