While reporting on the elections in Haiti, Amelia Shaw (a former NPR intern) serving as a stringer for National Public Radio (NPR) also served as a freelance reporter for the U.S. Government funded Voice of America (VOA). NPR's Vice President for communications Andi Sporkin responded that "NPR was not aware she had filed anything for Voice of America". Sporken went on to add, “NPR’s lead reporter in Haiti – and leading our coverage on the elections there – has been NPR Foreign Desk staff correspondent Corey Flintoff. Ameila Shaw has served as a back-up stringer (she is a freelancer, therefore has no NPR title)…NPR policy does not permit freelancers who report for VOA or any government-controlled news organization to also do for NPR. In this case, it was simply a misunderstanding that has been quickly corrected: NPR was not aware she had filed anything for VOA, and Ameila was not aware of the prohibition. Once it was learned Ameila volunteered to stop filing for VOA and has done so. Like most freelancers, she might be contributing to other news orgs such as the BBC, the wires, etc., but that is permissible per NPR policy.” NPR’s Morning Edition never announced that Shaw had broken her ties with NPR.
Shaws reporting on Haiti has commonly ignored the mass killings of the poor in the slums of Haiti's capital. After nearly two years of a brutal and unelected government sponsored by the US (which few in the mainstream media questioned), elections were held in Haiti. The winning candidate Preval was the popular choice but many in the US media lamented the fact that Lavalassians (supporters of the ousted Aristide government) made up in large part Preval's own base of support.
Shaw along with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep explained in one NPR interview that Preval's supporters could be used for spreading "mayhem".
The relationship between the VOA and NPR is not clear. But according to US domestic propaganda laws it is illegal for VOA to be aired within the borders of the United States.Shaw's first report for NPR appeared in November of 2004 and her first report for VOA appeared in October of 2004. So for around the last year and half Shaw has been working for both the VOA and NPR while reporting often on Haiti. NPR Andi Sporken acknowledges that this presents a conflict of interest as NPR bylaws prohibit it from employing US government employed journalists.
What is the Voice of America?
According to its website, the VOA is an international broadcasting service that is funded by the U.S. Government. The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, amended in 1972 and 1998, prohibits the U.S. government from propagandizing the American public with information and psychological operations directed at foreign audiences, making VOA broadcasts inside the United States illegal. VOA estimates its weekly listeners at more than 100 million, while NPR estimates at it's weekly listeners at only 25 million. The VOA employees approximately 22 domestic and 16 foreign overseas corespondents and they are augmented by contract correspondents and part-time "stringers," in numerous countries, who file in English and numerous languages used by VOA's various language services. One must wonder, how widespread former VOA employees are in the U.S. free press? For further reading on the VOA-NPR Ameila Shaw scandal see US Propaganda in Haiti: NPR reporter Amelia Shaw is wearing two hats and listen tonight on Flashpoints.