Ask questions and you get answers. Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack announced a new program to engage the American public in fulfillment of the his mandate “to help Americans understand the importance of foreign affairs.”
Sean took a different route – a hybrid route – than his boss and the Department of Defense, both of whom bypassed the Fourth Estate and went after the proto-/pseudo-/pamphleteering media of the Fifth Estate with their own Blogger Roundtables where the discussion was propagated by the bloggers. Instead, Sean used new media – YouTube, Facebook, and State’s own blog DipNote – to field questions from the general public and respond directly within the host format. Also unlike the Roundtables, where the principal comes to the table with at least one topic to discussion (i.e. is proactive), Sean the Public Affairs Officer is completely reactive: answers are limited to the questions, although the skill of the speaker creates opportunities to go beyond the question.
A few of us thought this interesting, but we did not envy Sean and thought he was a bit optimistic to think what he was about to do would be, as Sean put it, “fun.”