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”

Two Public diplomacy reports you probably haven’t read

Two reports I wanted to throw out into the wild for discussion. I’ll discuss in depth later.

Brand Sweden: The road to an updated image of Sweden abroad. I really enjoy speaking with Swedes about their public diplomacy. The Swedes really get the need to have a hub organizing that supports country-wide efforts. The chief of staff (strategy, evaluation, coordination etc.) at the Swedish Institute, a public agency (like the British Council or the Goethe Institute etc.) that is responsible for working with a huge part of Swedish public diplomacy as two titles, one in Swedish for Swedes (“Director of Coordination”) and the other in English for everybody else (“Director of Branding”). 

The Foreign Ministry also understands the importance of perceptions, both local and global. The FM gives media training, with reminders on wallet cards o all member of the Ministry. The cards reminds the reader to Respect the role of the journalist; Be helpful in providing information; Never lie; Take the time to check facts; Assume you are on the record; and Stay calm. The card also provides a Swedish phone number to contact the press service, including a number to call after hours. (I should scan mine and post it up.)

The Public Diplomacy Of Other Countries:Implications For The United States. This 1979 Government Accounting Office report looked at six countries – Britain, France, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union – and offered the following conclusions:

  • By comparison with allies and adversaries, the U.S. Government investment in this field is low.
  • The U.S. can improve impact and efficiency of overseas programs by further cultivating cooperation with its allies.
  • While leading allies and adversaries put heavy emphasis on teaching their languages to foreigners, the U. S. has neglected important opportunities in this field for more than a decade.
  • The present ban on the domestic availability of International Communication Agency products should be re-examined.
  • A periodic, public report and analysis of aims, content, and methods of Soviet propaganda in and concerning the United States would give the U.S. press and public new perspective on Soviet purposes.