• Media,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  Social Media

    Looking for a headline aggregator for Europe? The Rundown is one of the best

    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 News,  Psychological Struggle,  Smith-Mundt

    US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?

    “US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?” Anna Mulrine, writing at the Christian Science Monitor, quoted Matt Armstrong: While the prospect of an officer trained to manipulate psyches using those skills on elected members of Congress is galling to some within the military, others wonder whether it was an innocent mistake or even all that wrong. Context is key, says Matt Armstrong, a specialist on military strategic communications with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. Rolling Stone claims that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is in charge of training Afghan troops, asked his team of PSYOP officers to…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Revamping Public Diplomacy at the State Department (updated)

    Since the abolishment of the United States Information Agency, the State Department has struggled to balance the need of the embassies with what Washington perceived was needed. This challenge has been particularly acute on the Internet where the resulting mix of information and voices can undermine the very purpose and effectiveness of engagement. On January 28, I spoke with Dawn McCall, Coordinator for the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), to discuss the recently announced reorganization of the Bureau. IIP is responsible for developing and disseminating printed material, online information and engagement efforts, and speaker’s programs (a kind of offline engagement using subject matter experts). It is half of the…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    VOA on The Daily Show (Updated)

    Briefly, opening with “I got a hold of your show on the web and I was so impressed with the heart of it,” Jon Stewart began his interview with Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, two U.S. Government employees – and U.S. public diplomats – behind “Parazit”, a Voice of America program aimed at Iran. The interview, embedded below, followed a brief clip from the show. Under current law, amended from its original form, if The Daily Show had requested permission from the U.S. Government to broadcast the clip it would have been denied. More on that below. Two comments. First, kudos to VOA’s Persian News Network’s “Parazit” for the recognition.…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Yes, there is No Smith-Mundt Act in India, nor anywhere else (except Japan?)

    My colleague John Brown notes in a post that there is “No Smith-Mundt Act in India.” The context was an article by Rajiv Bhatia in which Bhatia wrote Indian diplomats that “rightly maintain that public diplomacy has to do with both foreign an domestic audiences.”  John’s reference to the Smith-Mundt Act is the artificial division of the world between domestic and foreign based on America’s political border. This senseless division is what common understanding of the effect – and purpose – of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, as amended. To say this means the Act prevents the Government speaking to Americans is misleading – as is most discussion surrounding the…

  • Government Broadcasting,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    U.S. International Broadcasting: An Untapped Resource For Domestic And Ethnic News Organizations

    For anyone interested in the Broadcasting Board of Governors and/or U.S. government broadcasting, I recommend reading this updated report-turned-chapter written by Shawn Powers: U.S. International Broadcasting: An Untapped Resource For Domestic And Ethnic News Organizations (180kb PDF, also available as a Google Doc). The news media landscape is rapidly changing in the wake of technological progress and the altered ways in which information is received and disseminated require adjustments in the contemporary media regulatory framework. Just as advances in science and health sectors require governments to adjust their laws accordingly, so do advances in information technology. The advent of the Internet, a global infrastructure able to disseminate information instantaneously from…

  • BBG,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    The BBG’s Honeymoon: All Work and No Play

    The BBG’s Honeymoon: All Work and No Play by Matt Armstrong, 9 September 2010, in Layalina’s Perspectives column. MountainRunner bog post on the article is here. There is a new governor in town, eight of them in fact. For the first time in six years, all of the top jobs at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) are filled. Half of the seats sat empty for up to four years, including the chairmanship for the past two years. This fresh beginning provides some breathing room for the BBG, which manages all U.S. government, non-military international broadcasting. The Board is taking this honeymoon seriously: it has already held two meetings and…

  • Government Broadcasting,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Recalling History: Making the Case for U.S. Government Broadcasting

    As Americans, we are detached from our history. True, remaining anchored to the past can hold back progress, understanding what came before and thus the trajectory of past activities that shape today is helpful. As the saying goes, those who fail to grasp history are doomed to repeat it. Understanding the context of public diplomacy, the institutions, and methods is important. For too many, public diplomacy began in the 1980s when the beginning of recent memory. At a 2009 conference organized by Doug Wilson, now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, I sat on a “scene setting” panel with Harriet Fulbright, widow of the late Senator Fulbright, Len…

  • Government Broadcasting,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Recalling History: Advisory Commission tells Congress to Expand VOA

    On March 30, 1949, in its first semi-annual report by the US Advisory Commission on Information, the predecessor to today’s Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, recommended an “immediate and broad expansion of the world-wide information program being conducted by the State Department, including the activities of the Voice of America.” A realistic approach requires that we provide a budget better balanced between the three-pronged program of military, economic and information policy. A budget which contemplates $15,000,000,000 for military, $5,000,000,000 for economic and only $36,000,000 for information and educational services, does not provide an effective tool for cleaning out the Augean Stables of international confusion and misunderstanding. … It is in…