Sunday, May 8, 2016

New VOA Director: “Great journalism is great public diplomacy”

Thursday, May 5th 2016

Amanda Bennett with her predecessor, David Ensor
Amanda Bennett, the new Director of the Voice of America, addressing a Public Diplomacy Council event two weeks after she was sworn in, introduced herself by saying she was not a diplomat, but she practices public diplomacy.
“I'm all journalist and no diplomat,” said Bennett, but she added, “Great journalism is in fact great public diplomacy.”
Bennett outlined plans to expand VOA coverage of several parts of “everyday American life,” including U.S. business, entrepreneurship and Silicon Valley. 
“Iran is crazy for entrepreneurialism,” she explained. “We need to create robust coverage of entrepreneurialism which is a hallmark of our society... A rock start in China is Warren Buffett. So we need to beef up our coverage of American business and of American philanthropy, which is probably the most robust of any in the world.”
Other areas she identified for expanded VOA attention include American education, women and medicine.
"People may fly to other countries to get their faces lifted, cheap treatments, medical tourism,” Bennett said, “but they come to the U.S. when they want to save their lives or the lives of their loved ones.”
And Bennett identified VOA’s existing programs that teach English and explain U.S. politics as particular strengths.
“One of the most popular features of our Russian service is a video dictionary of American political terms,” she said, “little videos explaining, What is a soccer mom? What happens when you filibuster? What does canvassing mean? And how about the Bible Belt?"
See CSpan’s live coverage of her complete remarks, available on demand, at
Bennett’s remarks came at the monthly forum sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Council, the University of Southern California’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy [], and the USC Center on Public Diplomacy [], and hosted at the American Foreign Service Association []
Next month’s forum, on June 6th, will feature Paul Smith, Director of British Council USA. Details at

Author: Adam Powell

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