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VOA Museum announces 'Journalism: The Oxygen of Democracy' series

John Kiesewetter
The iconic Voice of America building, which broadcast international programming from 1944 to 1994, will host a series about journalism and democracy this fall.

Monthly series featuring Voice of America journalists or officials begins Sept. 15 at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township.

Journalists On The Run, a 30-minute film about three Afghan journalists escaping the Taliban during the U.S. military withdrawal last year, will launch a monthly series of presentations about "Journalism: The Oxygen of Democracy" Sept. 15 at the National Voice of American Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township.

After a 7 p.m. screening of the film, the audience in the VOA's Clyde Haehnle Hall will chat by video conference with Hasib Danish Alikozai, Voice of America Afghan service chief, and Lauren Kawana, senior producer of Journalists On The Run and an editor for the VOA's "52 Documentary" series.

The programs are free and open to the public, although reservations are requested because seating is limited to 100 at the museum, 8070 Tylersville Road. RSVPs should be made by Sept. 13 by emailing or calling 513-777-0027.

Donations will be accepted at the museum door.

Producer Lauren Kawana will speak about her "Journalists On The Run" film about reporters fleeing Afghanistan last year.
Courtesy National VOA Museum of Broadcasting
Producer Lauren Kawana will speak about her "Journalists On The Run" film about reporters fleeing Afghanistan last year.

Future topics for the "Journalism: The Oxygen of Democracy" virtual series include an update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine; an explanation of VOA journalistic standards when reporting the news; and how video, recordings and social media shape breaking news around the world. The presentations are scheduled for 7-9 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month (Sept. 15; Oct. 20; Nov. 17; Dec. 15 and Jan. 19).

“Good journalists are needed more now than ever to provide the oxygen for democracy’s survival,” says Jack Dominic, museum director.

"As we witness the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the overthrow of democratically-elected government in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and the torture and imprisonment of political protesters in places like Hong Kong, Russia, Belarus and China, as well as the recent expulsion of VOA journalists from Nicaragua, it’s abundantly clear that democracy is threatened worldwide,” he said in the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting announcement.

Kawana, who has a master’s degree in documentary film from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, has worked on Try Harder!; No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics; Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw and other independent documentaries.

Alikozai has overseen the VOA’s news and information content to Afghanistan on radio, digital, locally-affiliated TV stations and satellite since July 2021. He directed its response to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last August. He also oversaw the launch of a 24/7 direct-to-home TV channel for Afghanistan, as well as several new TV shows with two of the country's most popular TV channels when local media came under pressure by the Taliban. He also increased the VOA's Afghan radio programming from eight to 12 hours a day.

Hasib Danish Alikozai is the Voice of America's Afghan service chief.
Courtesy National VOA Museum of Broadcasting
Hasib Danish Alikozai is the Voice of America's Afghan service chief.

From 2017 to 2021, Alikozai was managing editor of VOA’s Extremism Watch Desk. Before joining the Voice of America in 2009, Alikozai served as a cultural adviser at NATO Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Georgetown University; a master’s degree in global security studies with a concentration in economic security from Johns Hopkins University; and a second master’s degree in international development and foreign service from American University’s School of International Service.

The series is sponsored by the Sebaly, Shillito and Dyer law firm, which has offices in Dayton and West Chester Township.

From the release:

"The Voice of America is the largest U.S. international broadcaster and reaches a weekly global audience of more than 311 million people in 48 languages in nearly 100 countries. VOA programs are delivered on multiple platforms, including radio, television, web and mobile via a network of more than 3,000 media outlets worldwide. The news organization is funded by the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, an independent federal agency.

VOA news from around the world can be accessed at“52 Documentary” series can be accessed on YouTube.

TheVOA Bethany Relay Station in West Chester was known for its high-powered rhombic antenna system, which transmitted VOA news to Europe and northern Africa during World War II (starting in 1944) and to South America during the Cold War to countries that lacked a free press. Bethany Station was decommissioned by the federal government in 1994 and now houses the VOA museum.

For more information, visit the voamuseum website.

The museum hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults. Children under 16 are free."

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.