Image from, with caption: Lance Wyman Logo and Brouchure [sic] for USIA Exhibition.
American Public Diplomacy (PD) and Propaganda: A Historical (Hysterical?) Overview
John Brown (1/26/2017)
1. Propaganda and PD: linguistic origins of the terms: Propaganda – 16th century [see]; PD – Cold War (mid-1960s [see]); their current definitions [see (1), (2)], commonalities as communication tools:
· Audience: the “public” and its opinion
· Method: persuasion; influence/education/engagement; non-violent?
· Purpose: governmental promotion of national/institutional interests; not altruistic?
2. Second Continental Congress (1776): The Declaration of Independence as a PD/propaganda document [see]
3. WWI: The Committee on Public Information (CPI, 1917-1919) [see (1) (2)]: The USG’s first PD/propaganda agency
· Its chairman: Wilson confidant Missouri-born journalist George Creel [see]
· Audience: domestic (primarily) and foreign; criticisms [see] of CPI by Congress
· CPI’s new mass medium: movies; other communication tools.
4. The post-WWI U.S. anti-propaganda tradition [see]
· The sins of propaganda: lies; violence to language; germs of hate; advertising; distortion of history; incompatible with democracy
· The Institute for Propaganda Analysis (1937-1942): How to identify propaganda [see]
5. WWII: Office of War Information (OWI, 1942-1945 [see]
· OWI leadership (newsman Elmer Davis [see], not as close to Roosevelt as Creel was to Wilson
· Audience: domestic (less than CPI) and foreign; criticisms by Congress (less than for CPI)
· OWI’s new mass medium: radio (Voice of America [see]; other communication tools
6. Establishment of the State Dept. Fulbright program educational exchange program (1946) [see]
7. Smith-Mundt Act (1948) prohibits the domestic distribution of State Dept. information products targeted to foreign audiences. [see]
8. Cold War: The United States Information Agency (USIA [see], 1953-1999)
· Had 14 directors; Charles Z Wick [see] was the longest-lasting (Reagan administration)
· Audience: foreign; push into Africa/Asia; criticisms by Congress less than for CPI/OWI
· USIA new media: television (Worldnet [see])/video/internet; other communication tools
9. War on terror/countering violent extremism: State Dept. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (1999-present) [see]
· Frequent change of leadership (10 directors since 1999, including two Acting ones)
· Audience: focus on Muslim world [see]; dozens of critical reports on PD after 9/11
· New medium: social media; other communication tools
10. [Time permitting]: PD at its best and propaganda at its worse: observation based on their history[see]