Loy Henderson: supporter of public diplomacy, but perhaps not jazz

Loy Henderson
Source: Wikipedia

In the world of U.S. public diplomacy, jazz is often portrayed as an “instrument” of “soft power”, and presumably of “public diplomacy”. The music is democratic by nature. It communicates, as does all music, but it has a particular way of “freeing” the listener to transport and convey messages. It is an art form that inspires. The Public Diplomacy Council recently co-hosted an event on this. 
Continue reading “Loy Henderson: supporter of public diplomacy, but perhaps not jazz”

1949: “You’ve told us why the Voice, but you haven’t told us what it is”

"INP Kept Busy 'Untwisting' News of U.S."
Source: “INP Kept Busy ‘Untwisting’ News of U.S.” by Emily Towe in the December 18, 1949 edition of The Washington Post. [INP – International Press and News Division. USIS was the distribution side, while INP and other divisions in Public Affairs were the production side.]
In August 1949, George V. Allen wrote an article for the Washington Star newspaper. He was responding to a frequently question of the time: why were Voice of America programs not conveniently heard inside the United States. Allen was the best person to answer the question as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and thus the “owner” of VOA and the rest of what we today would call “public diplomacy”  Continue reading “1949: “You’ve told us why the Voice, but you haven’t told us what it is””

VOA in 1967

Source: http://www.ontheshortwaves.com/VOA_Stamp.html

In May 1967, The New York Times reported that the Voice of America was:

  • Broadcasting using 35 transmitters inside the United States;
  • Broadcasting using 57 transmitters outside the United States;
  • Broadcasting in 38 languages, although one-quarter of the total output was in English; and,
  • Rebroadcast by 3,000 radio stations using taped programs, adding 15,000 transmitter hours each week.

Continue reading “VOA in 1967”

From the past: FBIS and World War II

In late 1940, the State Department was concerned about ‘anti-American propaganda being short-waved hourly to Latin America.’ The Department of Justice was concerned whether ‘Axis agents in the United States received direction and guidance from Nazi short-wave programs,’ plus a growing concern about ‘the growing aggressiveness of Japan as reflected in her radio broadcasts.’ In addition to wanting to know what was coming into the United States, State, and others saw foreign government broadcasts as a necessary insight.   Continue reading “From the past: FBIS and World War II”

Quoting History: Information as an essential component of foreign policy

“Events in the past year have made a United States Government information program more important than ever. Information is one of the three essential components in carrying out United States foreign policy — the other two, of course, being military and economic. Each has its function to perform in this great struggle for the minds of men, and each has, or should have, an equally high place in the strategic plan.”

— First Semiannual Report of the Advisory Commission on Information, March 1949.

In 1949, the Cold War was in full swing. Barely four years earlier, the White House and the Congress set about to make various programs permanent in the post-war world. These efforts included various information programs — radio, libraries, press feeds, motion pictures, books, and other publications — and various exchange programs — educational, cultural, and technical. There was one primary authority for these — the eventually named Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 — and several supplementary programs — the Fulbright Act and Defense Department information programs run in Japan and Germany/Austria.  Continue reading “Quoting History: Information as an essential component of foreign policy”

The Smith-Mundt Act: A legislative history from 1953 by Burton Paulu

This 1953 Journalism Quarterly article by Burton Paulu entitled “Smith-Mundt Act- A legislative history” (3.7mb PDF) is an interesting and short read for anyone wanting to know more about the early discussions around the start of U.S. public diplomacy. The timing of this particular paper is interesting. Continue reading “The Smith-Mundt Act: A legislative history from 1953 by Burton Paulu”

George Kennan’s Draft on Information Policy on Relations with Russia

Source: Truman Library, Acheson Papers, Box 27, Correspondence Under Secretary 1945-1947

It is a pity that our press plays up our diplomatic relations like a ball game, stressing victories and defeats. Good diplomacy results in satisfaction for both sides as far as possible; if one side really feels defeated, they try to make up for it later, and thus relations deteriorate. In general the daily press and commentators dramatize short-term conflicts at the expense of long-term prospects for achieving a stable balance.

— Draft on Information Policy on Relations with Russia by George Kennan, July 22, 1946.

Continue reading “George Kennan’s Draft on Information Policy on Relations with Russia”

The Brookings Institute on U.S. International Information… in 1948

“Brookings Report Sees Flaws in U.S. Information Service” was the headline on page 2 in the December 13, 1948, edition of The Washington Post. The report, Overseas Information Service of the United States Government by Charles Thomson, examined the government’s information activities during World War II, the changes immediately after, and made recommendations for the future.  Continue reading “The Brookings Institute on U.S. International Information… in 1948”

Willis Conover & Smith-Mundt, a more complete picture

Source: the second semiannual report of USIA (1954)

If you missed yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article by Doug Ramsey on Willis Conover, you should read it. The article is part of a campaign to get Mr. Conover on a U.S. postage stamp.

There was one passage from the article that stuck out to me, as anyone who knows me or knows the book I am writing (it’s nearly finished, by the way) would know it would. Here is the sentence:  Continue reading “Willis Conover & Smith-Mundt, a more complete picture”

A news hungry Europe

This cartoon appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on October 21, 1947. I found it in the Truman library (Truman Library, President’s Personal File, Box 540, PPF 1971) attached to a letter from Bill Benton to the President dated October 25. Benton had just departed as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and was working as a Special Consultant for State on UNESCO, an effort he had long been involved as, while preparing for a bid for the Senate. In his letter, Benton mentions he meant to give the cartoon to the President when they met the day before and had a suggestion:  Continue reading “A news hungry Europe”