Last week, Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a bill to amend the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to “authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and for other purposes.” The bill, H.R.5736 — Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (Introduced in House – IH), removes the prohibition on public diplomacy material from being available to people within the United States and thus eliminates an artificial handicap to U.S. global engagement while creating domestic awareness of international affairs and oversight and accountability of the same. This bill also specifies Smith-Mundt only applies to the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, eliminating an ambiguity creatively imagined sometime over the three decades.
North Korea is one of the few remaining places where barriers to informing and engaging remain strong. While it remains unlikely Kim Jong Un will reduce the state’s control over the communication environment, a new report indicates access to unsanctioned foreign media is expanding inside the country. The impact of access to alternative news could have interesting consequences inside the country.
Are you looking for a headline aggregator covering Europe, Russia, and South Central Asia? The Rundown, compiled by Zach (@ZachPrague) at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), is one of the best. The mission of RFE/RL is to “promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.” Naturally, the headlines Zach gathers focus on this mission.
In the realm of public diplomacy reports, there are too few that should be on your required reading list. “Social Media Strategy: Bringing Public Diplomacy 2.0 to the next level” (820kb PDF) is an exception. Written by Carolijn van Noort, a former intern at the Department of Public Diplomacy, Press & Culture of the Consulate General of the Netherlands, this 53-page report is a terrific analysis of the challenges of public diplomacy in today’s Now Media environment.
Intended to explore the new public diplomacy of the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands, and its various Consulates, the “public diplomacy 2.0″ activities of the United States are also included .
Carolijn rightly states that “Social media asks for an hybridization of open and closed communication practices.” In this statement, she eloquently captures the dilemmas facing both public diplomacy and online engagement. She continues,
To engage with foreign audiences through social media services, diplomacy has to innovate itself. The social media services ask for openness and transparency, which contradicts traditional closed communication practices in diplomacy.
Carolijn also (rightly) notes that for the US, the modern constraint of the Smith-Mundt Act means “opportunities in the digital space are lost or postponed in the mean time [sic].”
The resulting document is both smart literature review and smart analysis. Do read the report: Social Media Strategy: Bringing Public Diplomacy 2.0 to the next level (820kb PDF)
It is available at MountainRunner with the permission of Floris van Hövell, Head of Department Public Diplomacy, Press and Culture, Royal Embassy of the Netherlands, Washington D.C.
The Wikileaks community and Wikileaks watchers are actively and likely inadvertently the myth that Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder and front-man, is giving a “keynote” at the UN this week. They are forwarding a Tweet from @Wikileaks that includes a link to a Reuters “Factbox” article that appears to indicate Assange is speaking at the UN. In fact, he is not giving the “keynote” or otherwise speaking at the UN Human Rights meeting but at a press conference put on by the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights (IIPJHR), a nongovernmental organization registered in Switzerland. A minor detail.
The Voice of America is hosting a discussion and webcast entitled Online Freedom vs. National Security: Finding a Middle Ground.
Government efforts seeking new controls over the Internet and mobile communications are raising concerns about the possible erosion of human rights and basic freedoms.
Participating are: Bob Boorstin, Director, Corporate & Policy Communications, Google; Arnaud de Borchgrave, Director & Senior Advisor, Transnational Threats Project, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS); Julie Barko Germany, Vice President for Digital Strategy, DCI Group; and Marc Rotenberg, President & Executive Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center.
When: Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 10:00am ET – 11:00am ET.
Where: Voice of America
Briefing Room 1528-A
330 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20237
RSVP at email@example.com or call (202) 203-4959
It is not clear to me that this worthwhile and necessary discussion should be available to audiences within the borders of the United States as a result of continuing Congressional censorship found within the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. Further, will someone mention irony of the firewall at the US border that inhibits informing audiences both abroad (at the very least by such engagement to Americans, including its value and content) and ignores diasporas (real or manufactured through empathy, sympathy, or other joining beyond the traditional ethnic, cultural, or linguistic bonds)?
By Cliff W. Gilmore
In Tom Gjelten’s September 23 NPR story titled “Seeing The Internet As An ‘Information Weapon’” Gjelten asks, “…why is there no arms control measure that would apply to the use of cyber weapons?” One obvious answer is that geography-based legal frameworks are ill-adapted to deal with a domain that is unconstrained by geography and subject to numerous competing interests. The situation is complicated further by an environment that changes at the speed of Moore’s Law.
Perhaps the most significant challenge however may be the information-centric mindset highlighted by Gjelten and prevalent among leaders, planners and communication practitioners alike. Part of the reason we have yet to develop applicable arms control measures for cyber weapons is a continued treatment of communications and communication (sans "s") as a singular activity rather than as two distinct fields of practice, the former grounded in technical science and the latter in social science.
From the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism:
The Annenberg Research Seminar series, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and the USC Master’s in Public Diplomacy program welcome Dr. Ronald Deibert for a conversation about “The hidden geopolitics of cyberspace.” Deibert is an associate professor of political science and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security, and human rights. He will be speaking about his current project which monitors, analyzes and investigates the impact of power in cyberspace as it relates to public diplomacy. This is the last in a series of Canadian-US Fulbright Chair in Public Diplomacy talks. This talk is a presentation of the Annenberg Research Seminar series. Lunch will be served. RSVP requested. To RSVP, click here. If you are having problems submitting your RSVP, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Schwartzman interviews Politico editor Jim VandeHei on Politico and his views social media. As always, Eric is an able interviewer who asks smart, well-researched questions. The result is a good “brain-picking” of VendeHei on the “future of grassroots diplomacy, the growth of emerging communications channels like social and mobile for news consumption,” in particularly how “Politico amalgamates the old media values of fairness and accuracy with the speed and immediacy of new technologies.”
Listen to the interview at On the Record Online. Eric provide a helpful timeline of the interview (copied below). Just before the 17 minute mark in the interview, just after the commercial, is a question the Broadcasting Board of Governors will have to wrestle with as they necessarily open to social media: who to do deal with vitriolic comments.
Also, Eric asked VandeHei a question from Don Kilburg, a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Dept. of State, on the hijack of the agendas of global media, online and offline, and global leaders by an individual who previously had an audience of at most fifty.
The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), in partnership with the U.S. State Department and with the support of more than 1000 U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) conducting citizen diplomacy activities, will convene a historic U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy on November 16-19, 2010 in Washington, DC. The goal of the Summit and ten year Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy is to double the number of American volunteers of all ages involved in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020.
A detailed agenda is available online.