In discussions about how the United States needs to structure its bureaucracies as the nation — and democratic principles in general — is pummeled by propaganda and political warfare, historical precedents are often cited. These examples may be used to show how something worked before or as warnings. For the latter, it is easy to find a reference to the Committee for Public Information as a government domestic propaganda machine. For the former, it is increasingly common to read how the United States Information Agency provides a model to be emulated today. Both are bad takes based on common narratives that are ahistorical and easily debunked, and yet no one has seemed to do so.Continue reading “Neglected History, Forgotten Lessons: a presentation and a discussion “
In August 1949, George V. Allen wrote an article for the Washington Star newspaper responding to a frequent 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” “
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.
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
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 “