head shot of Barry Zorthian

Lessons of Counterinsurgency: A Word from Barry Zorthian

During the Vietnam War, Barry Zorthian (1920-2010) was the Director of the U.S. Information Service in Saigon, and he was the prime mover in establishing the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO).  JUSPAO brought together the media operations of the State Department, the U.S. Information Service, USAID, the CIA, and the Military Assistance Command,…

President Dwight D. Eisenhower meeting with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles at the White House.

1957: Eisenhower, Dulles and merging USIA back into State, or Not

On Friday morning, January 18, 1957, Arthur Larson gave a lengthy and wide-ranging presentation on the United States Information Agency to President Eisenhower’s cabinet. After 22 months as under secretary at the Labor Department, and now one month as USIA Director, Larson used charts, maps, and film clips to describe the barely four-year-old agency. The nearly three dozen attendees…

The Troll in Your Computer

Remember trolls? They used to be mythical creatures from children’s stories who lurked in caves or under bridges. Not any more. Today’s trolls now lurk online, where they attack Western values, defend Vladimir Putin, and do whatever they can to plant nutty conspiracy theories and disrupt rational discussions on news and opinion websites. They’re not…

The Voice of America is Not a Wire Service, And It Shouldn’t Be Expected to Act Like One

There’s been a growing tendency lately (particularly on BBGWatch, an online watchdog) to compare, unfavorably, VOA’s performance, as measured by number of stories or live reports from the scene of breaking news, with other national and international news organizations. Behind much of this criticism is an implicit expectation that VOA’s coverage should be as fast…