• Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    What does Microsoft and State’s Bureau of International Information Programs have in common?

    In today’s The New York Times, Dick Brass, a former Microsoft Vice President (1997-2004), describes a corporate paralysis that stifles the release of relevant and innovative products in his op-ed, Microsoft’s Creative Destruction. As they marvel at Apple’s new iPad tablet computer, the technorati seem to be focusing on where this leaves Amazon’s popular e-book business. But the much more important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future, whether it’s tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular Web services…

  • Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Terrorism

    Al Shabab, Minneapolis in the news again

    US Special Forces killed Salah Ali Nabhan, the man Somali-Americans who traveled to fight for the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization identified as one of their trainers. The coverage of this ‘made for the movies’ attack should draw attention to the not-neutral territory of Minneapolis where Al Shabab has shown significant success in recruiting. This is as a good a time as any to reread my Censoring VOA article at ForeignPolicy.com: Earlier this year, a community radio station in Minneapolis asked Voice of America (VOA) for permission to retransmit its news coverage on the increasingly volatile situation in Somalia. The VOA audio files it requested were freely available online without copyright…

  • Media,  Public Diplomacy

    Interagency failure: DHS detains VOA reporter for 10 days

    This beyond-boneheaded decision undermines not only our ability to engage in the struggle for minds and wills played out primarily in AM and FM in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the “market” Bunairee used to work and had to physically escape from – it also sends a message to other reporters currently and potentially working for America.

  • In the News,  Public Diplomacy,  Social Media

    Censoring the Voice of America

    Censoring the Voice of America: Why is it OK to broadcast terrorist propaganda but not taxpayer-funded media reports? by Matt Armstrong, 6 August 2009, in ForeignPolicy.com.  Earlier this year, a community radio station in Minneapolis asked Voice of America (VOA) for permission to retransmit its news coverage on the increasingly volatile situation in Somalia. The VOA audio files it requested were freely available online without copyright or any licensing requirements. The radio station’s intentions were simple enough: Producers hoped to offer an informative, Somali-language alternative to the terrorist propaganda that is streaming into Minneapolis, where the United States’ largest Somali community resides. Over the last year or more,al-Shabab, an al Qaeda…

  • BBG,  Government Broadcasting,  Public Diplomacy

    Monitoring What You Say

    In 1948, 70-75% of Voice of America broadcasts were outsourced.  The National Broadcasting Corporation, now more commonly known as NBC, had complete control over the broadcasts it produced and sold to VOA.  For a radio series named “Know North America,” its purpose clearly established by its name, NBC hired a Cuban author and a Venezuelan supervisor to produce the series in Spanish for Latin America. In one episode, a Latin American is shown around Cheyenne, Wyoming, and told the history of the state by a guide. Tourist: “Do we still have Indians in Wyoming?” Guide: “Yes…Our Indian maidens run in races dressed in nothing but feathers.” In another episode on Texas,…