April 14, 2005

Virtual VOA

Traditionally, when you think of the Voice of America, you think of shortwave radio transmissions in special English. No longer! Now, in addition to radio broadcasts, the VOA send millions of email messages containing news and other items of local interest around the globe daily. And it doesn’t stop there. In-house technology experts are looking into text messaging, IMing, podcasting, and other possible avenues for delivering their information.

China, for example, with its 90+ million users and counting, is an important recipient of the emails, which are sent in easy-to-read Chinese. But the emails are not always so easy-to-receive. Some of the officially sanctioned 30,000 Chinese Internet police (a low-ball estimate) are on the lookout for the VOA.gov correspondence, and they block emails in the same spirit that China has jammed VOA radio broadcasts. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between US senders and Chinese censors over disguising and recognizing sender identity and filtering controversial content.

You can find more information at www.voanews.com.