Empowering and Engaging the First Three Feet: an upcoming symposium


The working title of a symposium I have in development is “Empowering and Engaging the First Three Feet”. The symposium will examine the US Government’s role in assisting and developing foreign media, both here in the United States and locally, notably in post-conflict environments and in repressive regimes. Is the United States doing enough to support the media, both American but primarily (for the purpose of this discussion) foreign, to…

  1. Get the truth out;
  2. Counter accidental misinformation and intentional disinformation; and
  3. Export the American concept of “Fourth Estate” responsibilities abroad?

These are the essential questions of this forthcoming event. Details, such keynote(s) to discussants to sponsors to date, are not set as of yet. 

The current working plan has four panels that will discuss:

  • The challenges that foreign journalists have in covering the United States, including bureaucratic issues like visas, expenses, as well as challenges like getting interviews and understanding nuances (and sometimes accents) of American politics.
  • Challenges and value of developing local media in areas of stress, including post-conflict and repressive environments.
  • Differences between developing “citizen” journalists and professional journalists.
  • Whether the US should be involved in empowering foreign media.

I coined the title “The First Three Feet” as a twist Edward R. Murrow’s “last three feet” that described the direct, face-to-face engagement in public diplomacy. While the “last three feet” describes the face-to-face engagement of America and its audience, the “first three feet” is about the media, formal or informal, that is in contact with a potentially significant event. Writing the “first draft of history”, those in the “first three feet” have the power to set the tone of and shape perceptions of events.

If you are interested in participating or supporting this event, email me. Continue to follow MountainRunner.us for updates.

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