Enhancing the Spread of True Facts: VOA’s Expanding Role

Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett, in a wide-ranging conversation Nov. 6 with American University students and public diplomacy advocates, reminded her audience that VOA “is all about a free press.” Examples abound:  A VOA multilingual VOA team has been in Hong Kong to report pro-democracy demonstrations in that Chinese territory. Objective journalism IS public…

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,…

Two figures walk bathed in colored lights

U.S. Broadcasting Chronicles Revival in America’s Heartland

Noted columnist David Brooks recently asserted that what he termed “an American renaissance is already happening.”  He noted that as the national government appears to be divided and polarized, cities far from Washington’s corridors of power are working to transform their communities — large and small. I recently experienced this firsthand in Houston, Texas, America’s fourth…

Portrait of General Marshall

The Marshall Plan at 70: Lessons for Today

Imagine spending 12 percent of the entire U.S. budget to help displaced and mostly impoverished Middle East, African and Afghan refugees to rebuild their lives?  The Marshall Plan of 1947 did just that for war-torn postwar Europe.  It was an indispensable helping hand for an entire generation recovering from devastation and dislocation after World War II. The…

Venus Meets Mars

This week’s Lunch and Learn session for public diplomacy staffers presented a panel of public affairs experts from the world of politics and corporate crisis communications. Public diplomacy and public relations are cousins, but with clear differences — nowhere more pronounced than in the area of crisis and political communication.  This sparked a fascinating compare-and-contrast…

Exposing Russian Social Media Operations

By Ambassador Brian Carlson Years ago, during the Cold War, Soviet propaganda continually portrayed the United States and NATO nations as militaristic, provocative and dangerously over-armed.  Every new Western weapons system and Congressional appropriation became more grist for Soviet-sponsored psyops mills around the world, while the USSR’s and Warsaw Pact’s own military spending and armaments…