National Geographic and "Brand America"

Gary Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society, shows the dozens of different front-page covers of this month's National Geographic magazine, tailored to audiences around the globe.  The media company embraces freedom of thought and expression, a core American value, he asserted at First Monday Forum.

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PD commentary

Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field

The State Department's New Year's Resolutions

Thursday, January 6th 2011

That’s what the QDDR – Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review – amounted to when it was released on December 15 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Joe B. Johnson

Board member

 

Joe B. Johnson consults on government communication and technology after a career in the United States Foreign Service.  He is an instructor for the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he teaches strategic planning for public diplomacy.

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Author: Joe Johnson

Voices of the voiceless: International broadcasting and human rights as a new decade dawns

Thursday, January 6th 2011

Approximately one month ago, VOA’s Mandarin language website carried the searing image of nothing more than a blue and white empty chair. That was the vacant place reserved in Oslo for imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his protests against the human rights policies of a government that prohibited him from traveling to Norway to receive the coveted award. China even went so far as to place Liu’s wife under house arrest to prevent her from going halfway around the world to accept the award in his behalf.

But the world didn’t forget. VOA Mandarin correspondents Nan Wang and Suli Yi were on the scene to file radio, TV, and web reports, including images of the empty chair. During eight days of coverage, the VOA team also sent out 87 tweets with news updates and photos. These were viewed by nearly 172,000 people that International Human Rights week --- and that didn’t even include “re-tweets”. In China, some dissidents altered their avatars in the shape of that empty chair. This is only one example of how International broadcasters are using new media, on occasion, virally, to engage traditional audiences in conversations that could only have been imagined a few years ago.

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Alan L. Heil Jr.

Board member

Summary: As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 125 million people in 44 languages.

...click authors name for more info

Author: Alan Heil

Barry Zorthian, 1920-2010

Tuesday, January 4th 2011

Since he passed away December 30, much has been written in tribute to Barry Zorthian’s stellar role as the chief U.S. diplomatic and military spokesman in Saigon in the mid-1960s. Much less heralded: his legendary and still significant contributions to U.S. civilian overseas broadcasting and public diplomacy generally.

Barry was a giant in the field. He was a key mover and shaker as program director and news director of VOA in the 1950s and early 1960s --- the decade of the Voice’s great renaissance following the McCarthy hearings. He was among the co-authors of the VOA Charter, which persists to this day as the navigational North Star, program-wise, of all our overseas broadcasts. The Charter (Public Law 94-350 and 103-415) is reflected, nearly verbatim, in the principles set out in law for the content of all the networks: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Middle East Broadcast Networks (MBN, Alhurra and Radio Sawa), and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti), as well as the Voice.

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Alan L. Heil Jr.

Board member

Summary: As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 125 million people in 44 languages.

...click authors name for more info

Author: Alan Heil

Has VOA Hit a Jackpot?

Tuesday, January 4th 2011

Two expatriate Iranians are attracting big television audiences in their home country with a weekly Voice of America comedy program, “Parazit,” that satirizes the ludicrous aspects of life in Iran.   Not what some might expect to find in the VOA’s carefully designed arsenal, right?  “Frankly,” as VOA’s executive editor says, “Parazit doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of VOA programming.  But it does go to the mission of informing and engaging our audience.”  And it holds nothing sacred.  If Ahmadinijad’s chief opponent was in charge in Tehran, says one of the program’s creators, “we’d go after him.”  

According to the Washington Post, “Parazit” is one of VOA’s most popular programs.  Posts from its Facebook page were viewed 17 million times in December alone, the paper reported, and the program’s You Tube channel gets 45,000 hits a week. In satiric impact, the program has been compared to Jon Stewart‘s ”Daily Show.” 

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John H. Trattner

Board Member


A former career Foreign Service officer and press spokesman of the Department of State, Trattner was also a newspaper, newsmagazine, and network radio journalist in the United States and Europe, press secretary to former Senator George Mitchell, vice president of a nonprofit focused on federal government management, head writer for a public affairs firm, and graduate-level teacher at American University. The author of eight books about the jobs and challenges of federal presidential appointees, he currently writes free-lance and composes choral music.

...click authors name for more info

Author: John Trattner

Will Advocates of American Exceptionalism Damage the United States' Image or Advance It?

Monday, December 13th 2010

In the recent modest flap about “exceptionalism” with regard to American Inimitability, President  Obama may have it roughly right:  that most people, not just superpatriots, probably see their own country as at least somewhat “exceptional,” simply because it is the national context they know best.  And, sure, our politicians (and our ideologues) often describe the US as a singular nation to gain or maintain domestic support. 

However, as a Foreign Service public diplomacy officer who represented his country on overseas assignments (my default position), I always personally took exception to the idea of expressing any overt “exceptionalism.”

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Michael Canning

Board member

Summary: As an officer with the US Information Agency (USIA), Mike Canning worked for 28 years as a press and cultural officer in eight countries on four continents and, in retirement, he retains his interest in promoting a vigourous public diplomacy (PD).
 

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Author: Michael Canning

The Public Diplomacy Council is a nonprofit organization committed to the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy. Founded in 1988, the Council serves the community of public diplomacy professionals, professors and students interested in public diplomacy.

 

 

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