Iranians Flood VOA with Messages for Obama

Iranians are flooding President-elect Barack Obama with personal messages on a special Persian-language website the Voice of America (VOA) created for people to express their views.

VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) has received hundreds of messages on topics ranging from U.S.-Iranian relations to access to student visas since it invited its audience last week to write to Obama at VOA website . The messages, posted on the site, will eventually be transmitted to the president-elect’s transition office.

“This enthusiastic response reflects the enormous interest that the Iranian people have in political developments in the United States,” said VOA Director Danforth Austin. “It also illustrates the critical role we have in reaching them with balanced and objective information about the United States and the world,” he said.

“Mr. Obama, your election to this important position is an historical event. I am glad that I am living in an era when such a miracle took place and that I witnessed it,” wrote one viewer from Tehran. Another from Ahvaz stated, “I wish there were at least one media outlet in Iran that could express the joy of Iranians for you. We love America and we respect this great democracy.”

Generally, e-mails from Iran show support for Obama. PNN, in a question of the day, asked Iranians on the Internet and on television, “Now that Sen. Obama will be the new American president, do you believe U.S.-Iranian relations will improve or deteriorate?” Out of 7,947 respondents, 17 percent said they would worsen, 43 percent said they will improve, and 40 percent said they would not change.

Currently, one in four adults in Iran watches or listens to PNN broadcasts at least weekly. PNN’s website, which received 2,574,901 visits in October, had nearly 180,000 individual visits November 4-5 alone.

VOA established PNN as a network in July 2007. It currently carries 5 hours of radio and 7 hours of television daily, repeated into a 24-hour cycle. Television programs include News and Views, Today’s Woman, Roundtable With You, 48 Hours, Late Edition, and News Talk.

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