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

US International Broadcasting Then and Now

By Alan Heil A SHORTWAVE CHRYSALIS TO A MULTIMEDIA BUTTERFLY: U.S. INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING THEN AND NOW Last Monday was indeed a memorable day for historians of our nation’s publicly-funded international broadcasters.  In the 20th century, these scholars were challenged to understand hot and Cold Wars, and convey what they learned, largely on shortwave radio.   Now they…

Don’t Kick VOA When It’s Down

VOA’s alleged mishandling of a Chinese insider’s interview shouldn’t overshadow the important work done by it and the other U.S. government-sponsored broadcasters. See my latest commentary in The American Interest: The Voice of America (VOA) celebrated its 75th anniversary in March, but it didn’t have much time to savor its diamond jubilee. Just a month later,…

The Power of Cultural Diplomacy – Why does the United States Neglect It?

In 1966 the Brookings Institution published a book by Charles Frankel entitled: The Neglected Aspect of Foreign Affairs – American Educational and Cultural Policy Abroad.  Frankel argued that “in comparison with the sophisticated analysis devoted to U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic policy, little intellectual attention has been given to international cultural exchange”. Although more than…

The Echo Chamber

By Joe B. Johnson I still remember a very old New Yorker cartoon showing two dogs — one at a computer, remarking to its friend: “On the Internet, no one knows I’m a dog.” That’s no longer funny in a world where robots amplify propaganda messages and can even write news stories of their own.…