Jeffrey Gedmin's Jan. 1 op-ed, “Start with Europe’s small issues,” cited a virtually unnoticed phenomenon in international news coverage: the risks in conflict zones for and the harassment of journalists at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the other four U.S.-government funded international broadcasting networks. All focus on meeting the informational needs of a world thirsty for facts. This commitment to “tell it as it is” is legally required in the charters and governing codes of all five networks administered by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
On Dec. 29, Pakistani police announced that, after nearly three years, it detained a key Taliban commander who killed Voice of America reporter Mukarram Khan Atif as he was praying at a mosque near his home in January 2012. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the murder and warned others against reporting for VOA’s Deewa Radio. After a tip, the alleged assassin, Irfan Kurasani, and two colleagues were picked up at a checkpoint. Atif's photo now appears at the Newseum’s gallery of journalists killed in dangerous assignments around the world.
VOA’s pursuit of truth continues, reaching more than 171 million people each week. As President Lyndon Johnson said when speaking of Edward R. Murrow a half-century ago: “Truth and personal integrity are the ultimate persuaders of men and nations.”
Alan L. Heil Jr., Alexandria
The writer is a former deputy director of Voice of America.