Results of 8 Years of Work at Voice of America
Republished: July 16, 2013
I was hired as a contractor by Voice of America in July 2005 by a manager who left VOA in a few months. During the last 8 years I ran the web site of VOA for the 8 hours of night shift all by myself. Mr. Kaveh Basmenji, the new executive editor of VOA, has stopped the renewal of my contract which ended on December 20th, 2012.
During the last 8 years because of the influence of some people, every time I applied for Full Time Employment, an FTE position at VOA, I was rejected and applicants with much lower educational qualifications and experience, in journalism and Internet, were hired. Therefore I do not have the benefit of job protection of a permanent employee. But even those influential people, because of the good quality of my work, were not able to force my direct managers to stop the renewal of my contract.
If the quality of my work was not good, with the exit of my hiring manager from the start of work at VOA, I would not have lasted 8 years and all web employees would not confirm this reality. But a few months ago, following the dismissal of the web supervisor, when Mr. Basmenji extended his territory to the web, not only did he reject my repeated application for an FTE position, but through his control of the web service, he stopped the renewal of my contract.
Personally, in the past I worked in high tech businesses, making four times more than what I make at VOA, but I accepted this position, which did not even provide health insurance for my family and myself, because I wanted to stay close to Iran's news, participate in accurate and balanced news reporting and to promote democratic values; an objective which is highlighted in VOA Charter and is sought for by honest journalists and not those who are time-servers. Surely the torment and hardship of not having insurance is nothing in comparison to the hardships of Iranian people, but discrimination by the responsible manager is questionable, especially for a journalistic organization which emphasizes human rights.
I love all my work at VOA, and hope my contributions have made a difference, especially in developing the faradid blog where links to English translation of most of my posts are included at the bottom of the articles:
Before joining VOA, I automated my Iranscope news portal which I had created more than 15 years ago. My news portal followed the same journalistic code of accurate and balanced reporting as well as promoting democratic values. It has been on autopilot all these years, relaying VOA news, Persian and English, and the news from other sources. I also distributed the wonderful Persian and English videos of VOA and other YouTube sources on my own time. Hopefully these efforts have helped the distribution of Iran and international news, particularly to Iranians behind the Internet filtering curtain. Moreover, I have always kept my work in journalism separate from my political views. In the news distribution system of my own web site I publish news from all sources including Iran's official news agencies without bias alongside news of international sources and those from various parts of Iran's opposition and my criteria has always been the newsworthiness and fairness in reporting. Please visit my news portal and judge for yourself:
I have been fortunate to be part of the great VOA team and wish continued success for all my colleagues and the VOA news network.
Postscript-December 19, 2012
Why I was not on VOA TV for Five years?
Some of my friends have contacted me and asked who these influential people at VOA are and why they show such animosity towards me? To respond to this question let me say that in 2007 I had two interviews with VOA, one about Internet filtering:
Internet Filtering Video
and the other about futurism.
After the television broadcast of these interviews those who had invited me were called in by two VOA senior managers and grilled over it. At that time, without mentioning VOA and the name of individuals, I wrote about this event in an article entitled "Third Open Letter to Mr. Reza Pahlavi"
Third Open Letter to Reza Pahlavi II
After those two interviews in 2007, during the last five years, I was never invited to any VOA TV programs.
Personally I have preferred not to waste the time of Iran's political movement with these discussions because my focus is on news and research topics and not these kinds of debates. But I should just say that recently Lifeboat Foundation announced me as an advisory member of their futurist board and in the biography they published made a reference to my interrogation by Savak at the time of the Shah. Seems like this issue has made those influential people upset again. The author of Lifeboat has used was a text written about 20 years ago on the Internet. Please read it and judge for yourself:
Lifeboat Foundation – Sam Ghandchi
In the end, let me say that I do not see all supporters of Iranian monarchy to be extremists who would use their influence in VOA for dictatorial purposes. In fact, a wide spectrum of Iranian political thought has approached democracy in the last 30 years in their views. Many of the Iranian monarchists are also inclined towards reform in their thinking and personally I have had the honor to know some of them in VOA who care as much about freedom and are against censorship as others from other political persuasions. The times of dogmatic thinking and support of any kind of despotism have long passed. Personally I respect many of the monarchist democratic-minded friends as much as other democrats. If those who have been leaders of Islamic Republic in the past, when the regime is still in power, are willing to talk of reform in their political and ideological system, how could we expect otherwise from Iranians who live abroad when even the leaders of their ideological system are still not in power?
Also I emphasize that this writing is not to make VOA look bad but it is an explanation about monarchist extremists who are still able to some extent to interfere in the work of that organization. Otherwise what I have done at VOA web and my faradid blog are in front of everyone to see which are the works of VOA. I wrote that I voluntarily distribute the news and videos of VOA. Then how could one imagine that my words are to make them look bad. And those influential extremists have not done any work there for me to make them look bad. No it is not true that when I have left a place I am saying it is bad. Perhaps some people have done so but what I have written is not that and when I have been in a team or when I have left it, I have been a realist and am against both exaggerations or denigration. It is ridiculous that every day in VOA there are talks about torture and interrogations in Islamic Republic of Iran but these influential people cannot tolerate even a word about the torture and interrogations of the time of the Shah, to be said even outside VOA, and instead of condemning the torture agents of the Shah, they condemn and reprimand the victims like me and grill the ones who have invited me for a scientific interview. This is like the time of the Shah when a Physics professor in Iranian university would be removed from his post because of his political views and would have to be glad for not being put in jail. Despite all this, as I noted above, what the author of Lifeboat has used was a text written about 20 years ago on the Internet and I have not written anything about Iranian monarchy for many years.
Regarding my interviews of 5 years ago I have explained clearly that the issue was not personal, and some people try to make all these look personal. Incidentally the interviews were very scientific and were received well by VOA audience and even five years later many still contact me about them and the reason for them not having been continued were the monarchist extremists. The reader can do their own research and if anyone at VOA tells them otherwise they can inform the public and whoever is not saying the truth can be shown. Why I did not say all these at the time? I did and I wrote it in my "Third Open Letter to Reza Pahlavi" where I clearly stated the issue without mentioning the names and today I still did not mention the names because my goal is to solve the problem and not to destroy any individual. Regarding Iranian monarchy and mojahedin in the following article many years ago stated my views:
Dissolve MKO and Monarchy to End IRI
But the issue here is cooperation of various forces in the news and human rights organizations and again the atmosphere of mistrust because of the extremists is reinforced, otherwise the works of all of us is obvious, and there is no need for a resume and we are not supposed to change our political views or ideologies to cooperate with each other. Finally I should repeat again that I will not respond to these discussions anymore. In my article I noted that for years I have been avoiding these debates and the focus of my attention has been news and theoretical topics and the reason for writing this article was the inquiries of some friends whom I have known for years, and I found myself obliged to answer to their questions; and I wish success for all my colleagues at VOA.
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