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Voice of America

Nicholas J. Cull


Voice of America (VOA) is a multilingual international broadcasting service funded by the US government, which, since its creation in 1942, has played an important role in projecting American news, culture, and policy to the world (→ International Radio ; News ; Culture: Definitions and Concepts ). The US government was slow to begin international broadcasting. While Soviet Russia had been transmitting to the world since 1927, the United States left such activity to a few religious stations. The outbreak of World War II changed this. In February 1942 federally funded broadcasts began from New York in German, French, and Italian under the collective name of Voice of America. More languages soon followed. The first VOA broadcast set the tone with the announcer declaring in German: “The news may be good or bad. We shall tell you the truth.” Overseen by the Office of War Information, VOA sparked controversy when it repeated criticism of US foreign policy, but it was considered effective enough to survive into the postwar period as an adjunct of the State Department. While postwar funding was initially hard to come by, the ubiquity of Soviet → propaganda soon convinced Capitol Hill that the US needed a permanent international information machine including shortwave radio. The authorizing legislation came in 1948. In 1953 the Eisenhower administration placed VOA within the United ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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