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The VOA Charter

A VOA Snapshot - Part of VOA's 60th Anniversary Year Coverage

VOA is the official U.S. Government voice to the world. But it enjoys journalistic independence, thanks to a unique document called the VOA Charter.

VOA News will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive

The Charter also says VOA will present a balanced and comprehensive view of America, and will present U.S. policy and responsible discussion of it. VOA was created as an arm of the nation's information barrage during World War II.

In the early years of the Cold War, says former program director Barry Zorthian, "We for awhile had State Department officials stationed at the Voice, reviewing copy in terms of 'policy.'"

So a drumbeat arose to guarantee VOA's editorial integrity - in writing. In 1959, a VOA manager wrote a brief statement of principles - The VOA Charter.

One time news chief Bernard Kamenske said it was inspiring, but mostly symbolic, as pressure grew to put a positive spin on the progress of the Vietnam War. "You knew that your worldwide audience was depending on you," he said, "for an accurate accounting of events, and that if you failed, that they would never trust you as a VOA again."

Bernie Kamenske led what his friends call a "stealth operation" on Capitol Hill. It paid off in 1976, when President Gerald Ford signed the VOA Charter into law.

Former VOA Director Geoffrey Cowan says the Charter proves something "and that is that you can have an organization controlled by the government and still be accurate, balanced, and comprehensive."

And in the case of the VOA Charter, it's the law.

Snapshots will continue throughout our 60th anniversary year, here at

To write to us about our anniversary, send an email to anniversary@ Or, send regular mail to Anniversary, VOA News Now, Washington, D.C. 20237, USA.