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VOA Snapshot: The Birth of <i>News Now</i>

Now a VOA Snapshot remembering our past as we look to the future in this, our 60th Anniversary Year

From Washington, this is VOA News Now . . .

At Zero Hours, Universal Time, on a Wednesday in May of 1998, VOA made perhaps the most dramatic change ever in its English format.

U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was there to help introduce a whole new approach to VOA's English programming.

"I'm very pleased to be here to help you inaugurate this new news service."

VOA News Now, live, 24 hours-a-day, broadcast news and short features around the world. It replaced the long-running format of live news woven around recorded programs. The head of VOA English at the time, Larry James, helped devise the new format.

"A continuous format, such as VOA News Now, allows listeners to tune in whenever it's convenient and be assured of getting what surveys show that our international listeners want," he said. "And that is, first and foremost, the latest news."

Israeli troops, backed by tanks. . .

Four years later, VOA English changed again. Earlier this year News Now was modified to restore some long-form features and music programs.

"It's still anchored live all the time," said Al Pessin, the current chief of VOA English Programs. "The editor on duty still has the authority not to play the recorded program, to go with an emergency or a news bulletin."

Leading the news this hour, a bizarre incident in the middle of Manhattan Island as a commercial jet apparently crashes into one of the world's tallest buildings. . .

Al Pessin says News Now's coverage of last September's terrorist attacks was just one example of the rapid-response capabilities of the VOA News Now format.

To write to us about our anniversary, send an email to:
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Anniversary, VOA News Now
Washington, D.C. 20237