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””

Thoughts about CBS Evening News going to VOA’s Steve Herman for Bangkok bombing coverage

This was originally published as an exclusive to email subscribers on August 18. It appears here following requests to forward that email and that I post it here. It remains my personal opinion.

Last night’s CBS Evening News threw to VOA’s Steve Herman to provide on-the-scene coverage of the Bangkok bombing. VOA’s video coverage of the site was broadcast by CBS with the text ‘Voice of America’ visible on the screen (a text bug, rather than VOA’s normal graphic bug). This was not a copy from the VOA website (or more precisely, the BBG affiliate system used by some 2,800 news media users around the globe where broadcast quality / HD content is available for worldwide) as CBS threw to Steve Herman by name, and Steve concluded the story by throwing it back – by name – to the CBS anchor.  Continue reading “Thoughts about CBS Evening News going to VOA’s Steve Herman for Bangkok bombing coverage”

A Brief History of the Smith-Mundt Act and Why Changing It Matters

USIA Director was required to submit a semi-annual review of operations. The cover above is for the review of the first half of 1963. (Source: http://dca.lib.tufts.edu/features/murrow/exhibit/usia.html)

“Modern international relations lie between peoples, not merely governments.”

— Memorandum on the Postwar International Information Program of the United States by Dr. Arthur MacMahon (July 1945)

The importance of information in international relations was already well understood by many before the end of World War II. The traditional methods of diplomacy, military, and economic levers were known to be inadequate in the new world that was emerging. The role of information was fundamental to the success of foreign affairs and critical to the development of foreign policy.  Continue reading “A Brief History of the Smith-Mundt Act and Why Changing It Matters”