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Voice of America Headquarters named Historic Site in Journalism


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, 317-920-4786, lharry@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists has named 330 Independence Ave. SW in Washington, D.C., as a Historic Site in Journalism. The address is the headquarters of the Voice of America, the editorially independent international broadcaster funded by the United States government.

SPJ’s Historic Sites program honors the people and places that have played important roles in American journalistic history.

“For 80 years, the Voice of America has been a source of solid and honest journalism. From its beginning in 1942, despite being a U.S. government agency, through custom, charters and law the editorial independence of VOA journalists has not wavered,” wrote Dan Kubiske, SPJ International Community co-chair. The Community sponsored the proposal to make VOA headquarters a historic site.

On February 24, 1942, VOA went on the air from New York City. Although VOA is funded by U.S. Agency for Global Media, formerly known as the U.S. Foreign Information Service, has, since it’s opening broadcast, remained editorially independent, with its credo emphasizing: “Today, and every day from now on, we will be with you from America to talk about the war. ... The news may be good or bad for us — we will always tell you the truth.” By law, it only broadcasts internationally and does not broadcast directly to the American public.

Its independence was further emphasized in a charter adopted in 1959 when the U.S. Information Agency, the parent agency of the VOA at the time, looked at its practices and created a firewall between its journalists and any political appointees by any U.S. administration. The charter became law as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for the federal government’s fiscal year for 1977, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, and was reinforced through legislation in 1994 and 2016.

USIA’s headquarters became the VOA headquarters in 1954 shortly after the agency came into existence. A bronze plaque will be placed at 330 Independence Ave. SW to distinguish it as a National Historic Site in Journalism.

More details about the award, as well as maps of places named National Historic Sites in Journalism dating back to 1942 can be found here.

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