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””

No, We Do Not Need to Revive the U.S. Information Agency – endnote edition

Cheshire cat queries Alice

You know you’ve heard it. Whether it was at the office, at school, or a social setting (how erudite of you!), you heard someone bemoan the loss of the United States Information Agency. Perhaps that someone was you. In my experience, these laments are really a coded acknowledgment that the U.S. lacks a strategy, an organizing principle, and empowered individuals to operate in an information-driven world. Continue reading “No, We Do Not Need to Revive the U.S. Information Agency – endnote edition”

Senator Edward Zorinsky and Banning Domestic Access to USIA in 1985

Senator Edward Zorinsky, D-NE
Senator Edward Zorinsky, D-NE (Source: Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress)

If you’ve looked into public diplomacy or the Smith-Mundt Act, you have likely come across this quote by Senator Edward Zorinsky (D-NE), or some paraphrased reference to it:

The American taxpayer certainly does not need or want his tax dollars used to support U.S. Government propaganda directed at him or her.

Most likely, the text was standing alone and without context of when and why the Senator said it. In my experience, I have seen the quote in perhaps a dozen books, and some scholarly articles, and yet most of the time Zorinsky’s name is not given and never, not once, was a source given. The reader was left hanging.

The logical — and only — implication to be drawn from the quote was that the Government should not propagandize its people, then or today. We like that, but, like many things, the context here, in fact the whole statement, may cause you to rethink this line.  Continue reading “Senator Edward Zorinsky and Banning Domestic Access to USIA in 1985”