• Government Broadcasting,  Media,  Public Diplomacy

    The Voice of America: Origins and Recollections by Walter Roberts

    American Diplomacy has several interesting articles this month, including a historical review by Walter Roberts, The Voice of America: Origins and Recollections: Beginning in 1937, the failure of the Executive Branch to reach a decision regarding the establishment of a governmental radio station led to a shift in initiative from the Department of State to Congress. Gregory calls it “a change that was marked by the introduction in both the House and the Senate of several bills.” Their sponsors, in particular Congressman Emmanuel Celler (D- NY), argued that every other nation was prepared to see that the world understands its point of view – yet the U. S.  was at…

  • 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.

  • Interagency,  Now Media,  Public Diplomacy

    Broadcasting Board of Governors: empty seats at the public diplomacy table

    What many critics of the BBG may not know is that the Board has not had its full compliment of 8 members (plus ex officio member, the Secretary of State) since August 2004. With the departure of Ted Kaufman in December 2008 (to take Vice President Biden's Senate seat from Delaware), there are now only four sitting members, just enough for a quorum. The Board has been without a Chairman since Jim Glassman vacated it 10 June 2008 to become the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

  • 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,…

  • Africa,  China,  Public Diplomacy

    Africa in the QDR

    The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) published by the DefenseDepartment is generally taken as a (not ‘the’) roadmap for future strategy and force structuring of United States Armed Forces. As such, it is a good read. Frequently, the more interesting read is what various groups "hear" in the document and what they highlight. Looking at the Voice of America (VOA), it is noteworthy they highlighted a small theme in the report: Africa. Within the 92 page report, Africa does not get too much attention.