Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22

“I used to say, there are two Americas: the USA and the VoA."

--West Bengal’s revolutionary singer-MP Kabir Suman; image from


The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, a touring program produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will launch its free concert series this week in Washington, DC (April 22) and New York City (April 24). The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad was created to share America's unique contribution to the world of music and to promote cross-cultural understanding and exchange among nations worldwide. Please find the full 2010 concert series on The Rhythm Road's Web site. Via AK


Public Diplomacy 2.0: The Obama administration's push for internet freedom and the use of social media to spread its message has its roots in the last days of the Bush administration - Peter Buxbaum, ISN: "At the initiative of James Glassman, a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, a program centered at the State Department called Public Diplomacy 2.0 was inaugurated.

Implicit in the program's philosophy was the recognition that the US could best al-Qaida in a Web 2.0 setting. … Th[e] lack of absolute content control is indeed one of the characteristics of Public Diplomacy 2.0. Another is the forging of partnerships with private-sector, civil society players, whose views align with that of US policy. … For Glassman, the biggest challenge facing Public Diplomacy 2.0 is 'spreading the technology.' 'The more people in Iran have technology that is working and not blocked by government,' he said, 'the better for freedom and democracy in that country but also for American security.'" Image from

VOA detractors in the news
- Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Soap Opera Diplomacy - Naomi Leight, Public Diplomacy Corps: "While soap opera diplomacy would probably not work from the U.S. to the Middle East, we still need to find 'out-of-the-box' ways to related to, understand from, and share values, ideas, words and images with the Arab publics while focusing on listening and learning from each other and different examples of successful public diplomacy.

Maybe, the U.S. government should brainstorm with some of our best cultural exporters out here in Hollywood, but it has to be authentic - not contrived but something real - I know it's a lot to hope for and very complex but fictional television captures the imaginations, hearts and minds of its viewers because of the people in the stories and their lives. We can't forget that people relating to people can make a big impact - real or imagined." Image from

VOL. VI NO. 8, April 9-April 22, 2010 - The Layalina Review

"Turkey Builds Media Empire in the Arab World Turkey is launching a new Arabic-language channel denoting its growing influence in the region and its attempt to win the hearts and minds of Arab populations by stressing their common past and culture through television programming.

Looking Up for Al-Hurra A new inspector’s general review recently revealed that the government-funded channel Al-Hurra made some positive organizational changes but remained contentious when it came to management and measuring effectiveness.

The Voice of Anti-America? Voice of America’s Iranian news service, the Persian News Network, has come under fire recently for airing what critics allege are pro-Iranian sentiments, but VOA and its supporters detracted the accusation claiming that they are simply adhering to good journalistic standards.

Print Media Industry Uneasy about Social Media Popularity The economic downturn is affecting news outlets that are struggling to sell newspapers, while the internet is proving to be a cheaper and more popular alternative, promoting the use of social media.

Global US Influence The 2010 BBC World Service poll indicates that international public opinion of the US is on the rise. Although President Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of change, his new foreign policy approach signals a return to traditional diplomacy, which some believe will improve his chances of successfully engaging the international community.

Media Bridging Differences A new translation website, Meedan, provides English and Arabic speakers a public platform to translate, read and debate Middle Eastern news, aiming to bridge the communication gap exists between them.

Professionalizing Journalism and Challenging Freedom of the Press in the Middle East Recent surveys indicate that the digital media revolution is perceived by traditional journalists as a threat to the quality and standards of the profession. Providing high quality training to “empower” and “professionalize” is crucial in a time when freedom of the press is constantly challenged in the region.

Cartoon College Comes to UAE Cartoon Network recently announced plans for a partnership with Abu Dhabi-based TwoFour54 to build new production and training facilities in the UAE capital. The venture will focus on developing an indigenous Arabic-language animation industry.

News in Israel The media situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories remains hectic as the political conflict continues. Israel gets a second shot at an Arabic-language TV channel, and Palestinian TV stations subvert Al-Jazeera to air a football match."

Informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers to take place 22-23 April - Focus News: "NATO ministers of Foreign Affairs will hold informal meetings in Tallinn, Estonia, on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 April 2010, under the chairmanship of the NATO Secretary General, Mr Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, His Excellency Mr Urmas Paet will host the meetings, it was announced on NATO's official website. At the margins of the ministerial meetings, the International Center for Defence Studies in cooperation with NATO Public Diplomacy Division will organize the annual Lennart Meri Conference 'Tomorrow’s NATO – Stronger Values and Stronger Capabilities', which will take place between 21–23 April at the Nordic Hotel Forum."

American analyst speaks of the contradictions between Armenian diaspora and Yerevan - Today.Az: “Jason Katz, principal of the Tool Shed Group, a US-based consultancy that advises foreign governments [says]: ... The Armenian Diaspora has had ownership of all the issues associated with the Republic of Armenia for years. It is only recently that the issues and Armenia as a nation have come into the light, of course as a result of the increasingly robust public diplomacy program of Azerbaijan and potential normalization with Turkey.

Public diplomacy is an educational process. There are those in the US government who will never see the issues accurately, as they are tied to their voters. However, there are increasing numbers of elected officials and policy makers who are not buying the Armenian Diaspora’s narrative any longer. It takes a concerted effort by all parties to educate accurately.” Image from

Global poll shows uptick on China’s image [China Daily] - Wandering China: "China’s public diplomacy (or charm offensive according to some quarters) seems to be having another quantifiable shift. The last major sense China got about their role in the world was last considered during the 2008 Olympics – opinions were quite torn, in fact it raised many historical areas of friction with its neighbours. I believe it is doing well in great part to its endorsement of using film and the media to shape perception – the nobility of Confucius in film and the world-wide Confucius Institutes to the honour of Red Cliff, the list is getting quite long, and quite effective."

Name of “Forough Farrokhzad” has been removed from the “Iran and world’s poets” book - Elham, Street Journalist: "In response to removal of the name of 'Forough Farokhzad' from Iran and the world’s book of poets, secretary of poets conference in Iran stated: 'We have a cultural and a public diplomacy, and that is why the name of 'Forough Farrokhzad'

although a known poet among poetry readers was not mentioned in the book for several reasons.'” Forough Farokhzad image from

Battles To Bridges: U.S. Strategic Communication And Public Diplomacy After 9/11 by R. S. Zaharna - Philip Seib, CPD Book Reviews, USC Center on Public diplomacy: "[Zaharna’s] concise but wide-ranging appraisal of U.S. public diplomacy during the past decade ... is valuably broad, recognizing that public diplomacy 'is a political and communication activity' and must 'be strategically aligned to the political and communication dynamics of the international arena in order to be effective.'

When conventional insular American communication values are determinative in implementing U.S. public diplomacy, even the best-intentioned efforts go askew. ... One of the most important sections of Zaharna’s book is her thorough discussion of network communication and its role in the jump from old to new public diplomacy. ... Battles to Bridges also provides solid analysis of nation branding, the distinctions between propaganda and public diplomacy, the importance of ethics, and other topics that will prove valuable to experienced practitioners and scholars as well as to the public diplomacy novice." Image from article

Edgemere Residents and Guests Hear First Hand Account of Life in the White House - press release, dBusinessNews, Dallas: "Edgemere senior living community recently hosted a special event that welcomed former Dallas resident and political powerhouse, Karen Hughes. ... More than 100 residents and guests filled the presentation room, including Hughes’ mother, who is a resident at Edgemere. ... Hughes has served as a key communications strategist for former President George W. Bush during his terms as both governor of Texas and president. ... In 2005, she began her role as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, which allowed her to travel throughout the world, building and maintaining relationships with other countries."

Implementation, not awareness, is the issue - Danielle Nisimov, Daily Trojan: "Kat Jawaharlal … [is] a graduate student studying public diplomacy."


Obama Needs a Reset Button on His Own Foreign-Policy Machine: The U.S. president may be a 21st-century leader, but his government is still stuck in the Cold War - Zachary Karabell, Foreign Policy: The Cold War was a struggle that called upon all of those resources, and at times, it was the least costly of those -- ideas -- that were the most effective. Today, with the old world of America, Europe, and Japan economically challenged, with the general contours of market capitalism nearly universally embraced, and with foreign aid a shell of what is was, U.S. foreign policy has essentially been reduced to one tool: guns. In short, the United States is conducting its affairs abroad with a 20th-century tool kit, an antiquated mindset, and poorly allocated resources. The most pressing issue for America's long-term security is the health and dynamism of its economy. And the way U.S. diplomats conduct foreign policy is almost devoid of tools to enhance that.

Propaganda shot heard 'round the world - Bruce Kauffmann, The battles of Lexington and Concord, Mass., which began the American Revolution this week (April 19) in 1775, were not -- as many believe -- attempts by an outmanned colonial citizenry to defend itself against an imperious British military juggernaut. On the contrary, the British commander, General Gage, ordered a small British force to move against Lexington and Concord because it was the least provocative military undertaking he could think of. The British troops moved quickly to Concord where another skirmish with a much larger colonial force took place.

Again, each side blamed the other side for firing the first shot -- the "Shot heard 'round the world," as Ralph Waldo Emerson would immortally describe it -- which resulted in approximately 250 British casualties, nearly triple that of American casualties. Militarily, the British got the worst of it, but ditto from a propaganda standpoint. If the reality of this historic episode is different from how most Americans remember it, perhaps reporting from a colonial newspaper is one reason. This kind of "news" inflamed the colonists, who got their revenge by winning the war and creating a new nation -- called America. But the lesson was not lost on the British either, who got their revenge by creating a new journalism -- born on London's Fleet Street but soon exported to America -- called "tabloid." Image from

6 Mind-Blowing Achievements in Propaganda - Jacopo della Quercia, When you think "propaganda" you immediately picture a huge statue of a dictator, or banners stamped with corny slogans. You think of the kind of clumsy brainwashing that only works on uneducated peasants. But then there are acts of propaganda that have changed the world, usually because you didn't know they were propaganda. If there was a hall of fame for such things, it would include:

#6. Che's Headshot Viva La Revolucion! #5. The Story of the Trojan Horse #4. The Great Pyramid of Giza #3. The Boston Massacre #2. The Cult of George Washington #1. Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima. Image from article


Images from The Plastic Forest - Bryan Graf, New York Times: "These are photographs of plastic bags that I pulled from trees and shrubs in the woods near my home in New Jersey.

To make these pictures — photograms — I took the bags into my darkroom and gently dropped them between my enlarger’s lens and a piece of light-sensitive paper. I then illuminated the scene with a flash of light for less than a second. The resulting images trace the objects gliding in the air moments before they come to rest. Like Earth Day, they are for me a prompt to reflect on the relationship — sometimes vexed, sometimes beautiful, always complicated — between humankind and nature."

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