Statement from CEO Amanda Bennett on Hamas Attack on Israel

In times of crisis, audiences rely on USAGM broadcasters to deliver the truth.

October 11, 2023

As Hamas perpetrated terrorist attacks that killed and injured thousands, USAGM journalists worked quickly to deliver the unbiased journalism we’re known for and report the unfolding crisis to the world.

Since the start of the violence on Saturday, our broadcasters have

I applaud USAGM broadcasters for turning on a dime to cover this tragic news, and for their continued resilience as this story unfolds. My heart goes out to all of the families who are impacted by this violence.

As network journalists bravely report from the frontlines and deliver this news across the world, journalist safety and security will continue to be a top priority for USAGM. As you will read below, USAGM networks continue to meet this moment – telling America’s story, adding unique perspectives, uncovering new details, and combatting misinformation for our audiences across the globe.

Working together to ensure journalist safety and security

USGAM journalists are in the conflict zone delivering breaking news from the frontlines of an evolving war. MBN correspondents are currently reporting from Gaza, Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank for Alhurra Television, Alhurra.com, and Radio Sawa, and sharing their footage across USAGM’s networks.

USAGM is coordinating closely with its broadcast entities and external contacts to ensure our journalists have the information, training, and equipment they need to stay safe in an increasingly volatile situation.

Telling America’s Story

As soon as Hamas launched its initial attack, USAGM networks started 24-hour news coverage with live reporting on the ground. Our networks conveyed the U.S. response with live coverage from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and Congress, and interviews with dozens of officials including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), as well as Israeli and international lawmakers and experts. This coverage included simulcasting President Biden’s October 10 remarks with live translation in sixteen languages: Arabic, Persian, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish, Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Turkish, Kurmanji, Deewa, Creole, Sorani, Azeri, Bangla, and Uzbek.

Combatting Misinformation

As news of Hamas’ attacks spread, so did misinformation and propaganda. In the past few days, USAGM networks have combatted misinformation by flooding the zone with accurate, fact-based coverage. For example, VOA’s South and Central Asia Division exposed a fake website that claimed the Taliban was going to send troops through Iran to fight for Hamas. A deceptive tweet from the site was viewed by 2.5 million people before VOA reporting revealed it was fake. The page was subsequently pulled down.

Audiences turn to us in times of crisis

USAGM networks are known for telling America’s story, adding unique perspectives, and uncovering new details – and in the wake of this crisis, we’re seeing a spike in demand as a result.

VOA saw a 64 percent increase in overall video views across digital platforms, reflecting the demand for the comprehensive and nuanced reporting of its 48 language services. In addition to providing the U.S. and international response, for example, VOA Kurdish, VOA Azerbaijani, and VOA Indonesian reported on the official reaction from Muslim-majority regions, VOA Russian exchanged coverage with a partner TV station in Israel, and VOA Latin America reported on a group of over 230 Colombian tourists stranded in Israel. VOA Urdu, Deewa, Dari, and Pashto generated a combined 4.66 million interactions and 77.66 million video views.

Traffic to VOA’s Persian Service and RFE/RL’s Persian Service (Radio Farda) spiked as audiences sought their breaking coverage. Providing 24/7 breaking news coverage continually updated with live reporting, VOA Persian hosted 32 U.S. and international experts and reported on 18 Congressional statements and reactions. Since October 7, VOA Persian’s social media platforms garnered more than 11 million video views, a 42 percent increase, and 2.8 million interactions, a 95 percent increase, as a result of this consistent coverage. Radio Farda has provided live coverage of the conflict from Israel and Dubai, and its journalists have interviewed the mother of Israeli hostage Ilya Cohencondemned the Islamic republic’s support for Hamas, and documented the attack’s impact on Israeli-Iranians’ lives. Several of Radio Farda’s Instagram videos related to the Hamas attack have been viewed over one million times.

Current Time, RFE/RL’s Russian-language digital news network led by in collaboration with VOA, was among the first Russian-language publications to break news of the attack and livestreamed its coverage on the popular social media platform Telegram. Its Facebook updates on the conflict garnered 2.1 million views on October 7, and another 1.1 million views on October 8. Current Time also expanded its news programming with special coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, earning 7.7 million views for its five YouTube programs on October 9. On October 8, the number of daily online visits on all platforms served by RFE/RL’s Russian Service increased by 40 percent from the previous seven days’ average. The Russian Service’s daily online news show earned 1.7 million YouTube views on October 9.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service added context by speaking to Ukrainians who fled Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country to only find themselves in the middle of a new war in Israel. One Ukrainian in Israel, a survivor of Russia’s brutal occupation of the city of Bucha, said “what Hamas fighters have done…it was like déjà vu for me.”

In addition to on-the-ground reporting, MBN’s Alhurra is regularly taking Israeli guests, more so than any other Arabic-news network, including representatives from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Israeli Embassy in the U.S. The network is also heavily reporting on the U.S. statements and reaction to the war, and is reported to be the only Arabic-language news network that aired a press conference held by the families of missing Americans.

RFA is uncovering new details, for example, its Korean Service reported that the weaponry Hamas used is believed to have originated in North Korea.

OCB is delivering balanced news and perspectives to Cubans living under a restrictive regime. As the only country in Latin America that does not have relations with Israel, misinformation is rampant in Cuba. OCB has extensively covered the Cuban government’s position on the emerging war, while also producing news stories on the reaction internationally, in the U.S., in Cuba and other Latin American countries. Marti Noticias covered Cuban human rights activists’ criticism of the Cuban government’s behavior, and offered a live broadcast with simultaneous translation of President Biden’s speech about the unfolding crisis and the US position.

In the wake of Hamas’ deadly attacks and as the world grapples with this evolving war and its tragic human toll, USAGM and its networks remain committed to delivering accurate and unbiased news and information to those who need it most. I applaud our journalists for their unyielding commitment and extend my deepest sympathies to anyone impacted by the ongoing violence.



Originally published at https://www.usagm.gov/2023/10/11/statement-from-ceo-amanda-bennett-on-hamas-attack-on-israel/

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