DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week, we have some of the movie music nominated for an Academy Award this Sunday ...

Also, a report about a Web site where some American college students get to know each other ...

And, a listener asks about VOA's history.


A few months ago we talked about social networks on the Internet. Web sites like Friendster help connect people with common interests. Now, Barbara Klein tells us about Thefacebook.

BARBARA KLEIN: Five students from Harvard University launched Thefacebook in February of last year. One of them, Chris Hughes, says the site has one and one-half million members from three hundred thirty-five schools. He says there are no plans at this point to go outside of the United States and Canada.

Thefacebook is a free service. It describes itself as an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities. It is supported by advertising. Paid announcements let students and local businesses provide links to people at the schools.

When new users go to Thefacebook-dot-com, they create a profile. They provide information about such things as their favorite movies, books and sayings. Most also provide a picture. Professors and teachers can use Thefacebook, too.

Members need an e-mail address at a school connected with the service. Many use Thefacebook to get in touch with old friends. Others try to make new friends. Students use it for entertainment, for dating, even for studying.

The site makes it easy for students to see if anyone else in their classes has a profile listed. Who knows, they may even find that someone in their Geography class lives in their same building.

Every member has a personal bulletin board where friends can place comments.

The custom at the Thefacebook is to have information open to other members. But co-founder Chris Hughes says students have control over the information they provide. And members can restrict who is permitted to see their information. In his words: "Thefacebook is a resource for both information and communication, but at the same time, is fun to use."

One first-year student in Washington, D.C., tells us that she has spent hours at the Thefacebook-dot-com. She checks her friends' profiles, then their friends' profiles. Then she wonders: What if other people are doing the same thing to her?

History of VOA

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week is from Nigeria. Prince Onyebuchi in Aba Abia State notes that February twenty-fourth was the sixty-third anniversary of VOA. He asks about the history.

The United States government established the Voice of America during World War Two. The first radio broadcast was in a language no longer heard on VOA. It was a fifteen-minute program in German. It aired on February twenty-fourth, nineteen forty-two. It told the German people that every day, VOA would broadcast news of America and the war. The announcer said The news may be good or bad, but we will tell you the truth.

Today, VOA broadcasts more than one thousand hours of radio programs each week in forty-four languages. VOA also has television programs in English and a number of other languages. These include Albanian, Cantonese, French, Indonesian, Mandarin and Persian. And VOA uses more than fourteen thousand computer servers around the world to put information on the Internet.

VOA has three main duties under a Charter signed into law in nineteen seventy-six. One is to report the news fairly. Another is to tell about America and its people. The third duty is to present the policies of the government as well as opinions about those policies.

When VOA began, all broadcasts were on shortwave. Today many local radio stations around the world carry VOA programs. It is estimated that VOA reaches more than one hundred million people each week through radio, television and the Internet.

More than ten million individuals visited the VOA Web site last year. We are happy to report that Special English is the third most popular page after the VOA home page and standard English.

Visitors can get to us from the English learning link at voanews-dot-com. Some VOA language services also link to our site. Or visitors can go directly to voaspecialenglish-dot-com.

Oscar-Nominated Songs

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the Oscars in Hollywood Sunday night. Gwen Outen tells us about the five nominees for the best song written for a movie from the past year.

GWEN OUTEN: One of the songs is from the animated movie "Shrek Two." Here is the band Counting Crows with "Accidentally In Love."


A song from the movie "The Motorcycle Diaries," "Al Otro Lado Del Rio," is also nominated for an Oscar this year. So is this next song, from "The Polar Express." Josh Groban sings "Believe."


Also nominated for the Oscar this Sunday is "Look to Your Path," from the movie "The Chorus." And we leave you with the final nomination for the Academy Award for an original song. From "The Phantom of the Opera," here is Minnie Driver with "Learn to Be Lonely."


DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program this week.

This show was written by Nancy Steinbach and Ed Stautberg. Caty Weaver was our producer. The engineer was Efeem Drucker.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.