• Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 introduced in the House

    Last week, Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a bill to amend the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to “authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and for other purposes.” The bill, H.R.5736 — Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (Introduced in House – IH), removes the prohibition on public diplomacy material from being available to people within the United States and thus eliminates an artificial handicap to U.S. global engagement while creating domestic awareness of international affairs and oversight and accountability of the same. This bill also specifies Smith-Mundt only applies to the Department of State…

  • Government Broadcasting

    Russia Today (RT) expands into San Francisco, claims ratings success in Washington and New York

    As the debate over whether Al Jazeera English should be available in the United States continues, Russia Today, the Russian government’s international news channel, quietly makes inroads across the United States. Kim Andrew Elliott, audience analyst at the International Broadcasting Bureau, a unit of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, draws our attention to a press release from RT from 11 February 2011: RT, an international TV news channel, has launched its English-language feed, 24×7, on San Francisco’s major cable provider, Comcast, which brings it to approximately 4 million viewers in the San Francisco metro area. In the U.S., RT is carried by cable networks in New York, NY; Chicago, IL;…

  • China,  Public Diplomacy

    Whither public diplomacy?

    For the practice, theory and organization of public diplomacy, is it helpful for the activities of a foreign government – or non-governmental organization for that matter – in the United States (or elsewhere) to be labeled as public diplomacy? Applying this label could contribute to increased understanding of public diplomacy’s methods and value in the Congress, the White House, the public and the media? Or it could be a harmful link to foreign “propaganda” and our own engagement efforts abroad?

  • 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…

  • Africa,  Now Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  Social Media

    Al-Shabaab receiving support from U.S. citizens and others in the U.S.

    In a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department unsealed four separate indictments charging 14 individuals in Minnesota, California, and Alabama with terrorism violations, including providing money, personnel, and services to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. An indictment in Minnesota charged 10 men for leaving the U.S. to join al-Shabaab, an organization with ties to al-Qaeda, as foreign fighters. In Minnesota alone, 19 have been charged with material support of al-Shabaab. Two women, naturalized U.S. citizens and residents of Minnesota, were charged with raising money to support al-Shabaab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in the Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.…

  • Congress,  Public Affairs,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Reforming Smith-Mundt: Making American Public Diplomacy Safe for Americans

    The impact of the "firewall" created by Smith-Mundt between domestic and foreign audiences is profound and often ignored. Ask a citizen of any other democracy what they think about this firewall and you're likely to get a blank, confused stare: Why -- and how -- would such a thing exist? No other country, except perhaps North Korea and China, prevents its own people from knowing what is said and done in their name.

  • In the News,  Smith-Mundt

    Reforming Smith-Mundt: Making American Public Diplomacy Safe for Americans

    Reforming Smith-Mundt: Making American Public Diplomacy Safe for Americans by Matt Armstrong, 2 August 2010, at World Politics Review. American public diplomacy has been the subject of many reports and much discussion over the past few years. But one rarely examined element is the true impact of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which for all practical purposes labels U.S. public diplomacy and government broadcasting as propaganda. The law imposes a geographic segregation of audiences between those inside the U.S. and those outside it, based on the fear that content aimed at audiences abroad might “spill over” into the U.S. This not only shows a lack of confidence and understanding of U.S. public…

  • Defense Department,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  Social Media,  State Department

    The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium: a Discourse on America’s Discourse

    The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium brought together public diplomacy and strategic communication practitioners from the State Department, the Defense Department, the Agency for International Development, and other governmental and non-governmental groups, including academia, media, and Congress for a first of its kind discussion. The goal to have a frank and open discussion on the foundation and structure America’s global engagement was achieved. Held on January 13, 2009, just one week before the Obama Administration came into office and just short of the Smith-Mundt Act’s sixty‐first anniversary, this one‐day event fueled an emerging discourse inside and outside of Government on the purpose and structure of public diplomacy. The symposium was convened and…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Recalling History: the Government will step down as private media step up

    In an article written for The New York Times Magazine December 2, 1945, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs William Benton described the purpose and need for what we know refer to as public diplomacy. This article came less than two months after HR 4368 was introduced in the House, a bill on extending and broadening the “existing programs for the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills between” the US and foreign countries.