Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 2-4

"[T]he name 'Voice of America' has never been especially helpful for a news organization wishing to demonstrate its independence."

--Audience research analyst in the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau Kim Andrew Elliott; image from

"Over the decades, VOA has been hampered by its status as the duckbill platypus of international broadcasting -- part news, part public diplomacy. "

--Kim Andrew Elliott


(1) Air Force rock band releases music video - Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy: "They say the military has more musicians than the State Department has diplomats. Well, not all military musicians play old American classics - one group even has a new rock video out this week."

(2) Edward Bernays on Letterman. Via AA


The Future of Public Diplomacy February 2012 Volume 3, Issue 2


Stolen Sandwiches - Dan Whitman, "Late 2002, and we knew the United States would attack Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We were instructed to prepare world opinion for the onslaught. I probably shouldn’t have been at the table, but was, the day Undersecretary for Public Affairs (U/S) talked about a video to produce, proving that Saddam Hussein stole food from Iraqi children. ... 'Do we actually have video footage for this purpose?' I asked. I imagined the perfect sequence: Saddam Hussein grabbing an egg salad sandwich out of the mouth of an Iraqi child. I thought, It will be a public diplomacy miracle if there is such a shot in an archive somewhere. 'Of course we do,' she answered, glancing at me from across the table. All nodded assent. She continued, 'And the Kurds. Hussein gassed the Kurds, it was a horrible human rights violation.' ... I said, 'The chemical attacks against the Kurds took place in 1991, eleven years ago. Maybe we have some more recent footage we might use?' The U/S peered at me again from the far end of the table. Her eyes turned to narrow slits.

'WHO ARE YOU?' she asked menacingly. I gave my name, rank, and office affiliation. 'Are you trying to prevent this project from going forward?' she said. I answered, 'No, I’m trying to help. It will be a great video, and even better if we ask the questions that could be on the minds of foreign publics viewing the film.' She jotted something down on her legal pad. Those colleagues who dared to, glanced at me with compassion, for a fallen comrade. And as Virginia Woolf would have said, ('Lappin and Lapinova,') That was the end of that career." Image from

Op-Ed: America's radios dancing to Putin's tune in Moscow - Ted Lipien, "Voice of America and Radio Liberty, funded by US taxpayers to promote media freedom abroad, self-censor news on two stations in Moscow to comply with Russian media law prior to Russia's presidential elections on March 4. US government-funded media freedom broadcasters, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Liberty (Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, RFE RL), have resorted to self-censorship of their news to keep broadcasting on two leased radio stations in Moscow in the days leading up to Russian presidential elections.

Self-censorship affects only their radio newscasts on two AM Moscow transmitters, which are leased and paid for by the US government to rebroadcast VOA and RL programs. It does not extend to their other program delivery options, such as their websites. The newscasts on these stations were changed in response to a request from Russian operators of the transmitters who had warned that broadcasting political programming or poll results several days before the elections would violate Russian media law." See also; image from

Chinese Internet Users Flood Obama's Google Plus Web Page - "Chinese language comments have flooded President Barack Obama's webpage on Google Plus, a social networking site that is usually inaccessible in China because of government blocks. In recent days, some Chinese Internet users found they could unexpectedly freely access Mr. Obama's Google Plus website, mostly on their mobile devices. Some comments left by the Chinese called for free speech and human rights. Others asked for information on getting U.S. 'green cards' for immigration. Some more extreme comments urged President Obama to work 'to free' the Chinese people. Jeremy Goldkorn, editor in chief of, thinks many of the comments were meant to be ironic or humorous. ... Goldkorn adds that many Chinese would visit President Obama's webpage simply because it is such a novelty to leave comments for a well-known top leader, because they do not have the same opportunities in their own country. But he warns that these comments do not accurately represent public opinion throughout the country. ... Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked whether the Chinese government is concerned about Chinese Internet users calling on President Obama to help 'free them.' He repeated Beijing's position that it protects Chinese citizens' rights to free expression on the Internet. But he also warned that they should express themselves according to Chinese laws and regulations." Via

VOA's Middle East Voices creates Syria: Faces of the Fallen page - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Nextgov, 29 Feb 2012, Joseph Mark: 'Once conflict reporting became a crowdsourced affair, perhaps it was inevitable that tributes to those conflicts' victims would be managed by the masses as well. The folks over at the Voice of America's Middle East Voices site recently launched a Faces of the Fallen page where people inside Syria can submit photos of friends and family members killed in the clashes between President Basher Assad's government and Arab Spring protesters. ... To date, the site has about 100 submitted photos, according to an information page.' [Elliott comment:] I am uncomfortable about this. Would Faces of the Fallen show the pictures of official Syrian or pro-Assad forces that were killed by overzealous demonstrators? This appears not to be the case, although the information page refers to '8,000 slain on both sides.' The photo page suggests that Middle East Voices is taking sides. It may be taking the side of history, and of humanity, but taking sides is something a news organization, which trades on its credibility above all else, cannot do, or even give the appearance of doing.Middle East Voices was orginally described as 'an Arab Spring social media project powered by the Voice of America.' The 'Arab Spring' has since been removed from the larger type at the top of the home page, though

it remains in the small type at the bottom of the page. The Arab Spring could be construed as a movement, and, at least at its inception, Middle East Voices identified with this movement. Over the decades, VOA has been hampered by its status as the duckbill platypus of international broadcasting -- part news, part public diplomacy. VOA must sort this out before it can contribute fully to the BBG's goal of becoming the 'world's leading news agency' by 2016." Image from article

With an "advocacy group" like this, who needs enemies? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "BBG Watch, 1 Mar 2012, BBG Watcher: 'In a response for a RadioWorld article, 'Advocacy Group Objects to BBG Cuts,' a spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors advanced an argument that Voice of America does not have a special role representing the United States to foreign audiences and can be replaced in this role by private broadcasters funded by the BBG. ... CUSIB supports the so-called 'surrogate broadcasters' and their special independent role in delivering highly-targeted news to countries without free media. CUSIB does not believe, however, that surrogate broadcasters should be required to represent the United States and explain American policies to foreign audiences. According to CUSIB experts, the effectiveness of surrogate broadcasters depends largely on their editorial independence and being separate from the Voice of America and the U.S. Government. ... [A BBG spokesperson] did not elaborate how the requirement of the VOA Charter, a Public Law passed by the U.S. Congress which mandates that the Voice of America will represent significant American viewpoints and discussions and explain U.S. policies to foreign audiences, will now be carried out by surrogate, private broadcasters.' [Elliott comment:] The surrogate broadcasters are not exactly 'private.' They are independent but US Government funded corporations. When 'CUSIB experts' say that 'the effectiveness of surrogate broadcasters depends largely on their editorial independence and being separate from ... the U.S. Government,' they imply that VOA does not have editorial independence and separation from the US government. What an awful thing to say about VOA, which must be independent if it is to have the credibility required for success in international broadcasting. If VOA's function is to 'represent the United States,' it should be transferred to the public diplomacy undersecretariate of the State Department and abandon any pretense of being a news organization. They also imply that VOA does not do targeted news. In fact, it, and BBC, have done so all along. They are de-facto 'surrogate' stations. Where audiences for international broadcasting are large, they are mostly because those audiences are seeking reliable news about their own country. Stating that the surrogate station provides the news about the target country, while VOA provides news about the United States and elsewhere, is the equivalent of saying that the surrogate stations and VOA are differentiated by the fact that the former attracts an audience, while the latter does not. For each country, there is a sweet spot, a proportion of news about the target country, the United States, and the world, that best suits the interests of the international media audience. Only a consolidated USIB can achieve that proportion. There is no provision for success in the present structure of USIB. Those who are trying to preserve the present entities of USIB do none of those entities, or USIB in general, any favors. If USIB remains as a confederacy of overlapping, duplicative broadcasting efforts, it will be unable to compete with the growing sector of unified, global media brands."

Iran’s Public Diplomacy in Latin America: When Anti-U.S. Rhetoric is Not Enough to Convince - Oscar Castellanos Del Collado, PD News – CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "About a month ago, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited several Latin American countries in a move that numerous analysts and journalists argued was a desperate attempt to find allies, as Iran is becoming increasingly isolated amid pressures from the U.S. and the European Union to limit its nuclear program. The countries and personalities included in his tour were not unfamiliar to him: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador, all members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), all sharing the same opinion that U.S. foreign policy is imperialistic. ... The most recent attempt to influence Latin American public opinion is 'HispanTv.'

The Spanish language television station was officially launched after Ahmadinejad’s latest visit, but has been broadcasting since 2010. With this new element, Iran seeks to counter the media coverage, mostly centered in the regime’s opposition repression, its punishment measures, and the ways to lessen American cultural influence. It may also strengthen cultural ties, transmit Iran’s message of peace and justice, and promote Iran’s health and scientific developments, fields which have been the cornerstone of Iran’s cooperation with ALBA countries. Although 'HispanTv' may expand Iran’s public diplomacy beyond the ALBA countries, it is probable that its credibility will continue to be contested. Iranian ambitions will not be able to gain significant sympathies from the entire region, unless it begins to actively conduct public diplomacy towards Brazil." Image from

CPPCC spokesman stresses public diplomacy for overseas Chinese firms - Xinhua, "Chinese firms investing overseas should focus more on public diplomacy to achieve success in 'going global', a spokesman for the country's top political advisory body told reporters Friday. Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said most Chinese enterprises are at the initial stage of investing overseas.

'They lack in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the international market, practices and rules, and they are not skilled at conducting public diplomacy with the local communities,' said Zhao." Image from article, with caption: Zhao Qizheng, spokesman of the Fifth Session of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, speaks during a news conference on the CPPCC session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 2, 2012. The Fifth Session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee is scheduled to open in Beijing on March 3.

Russian Diplomacy in the Twenty-First Century - Igor Ivanov, "Man is afraid of what he cannot understand and that he can't control. We are still not very well aware of, and even less able to control, the leading trends in world politics in the 21st century-such as a pervasiveness of new communications technologies, the dramatic increase in international migration flows, the globalization of education and science, an unprecedented explosion of public diplomacy activity and much more.

These trends are seen in Russia as a challenge to our security and our interests. Russia, like any other country in the world, still cannot isolate itself from events around it. Only active parts in globalization processes can adequately ensure the national interest. A smart foreign policy can be a decisive advantage, outweighing a relative shortage of material resources. For the simple reason that the relevance of the 'intangible' component is likely to increase." Ivanov image from article

Russia Votes, 4 March 2012: The Information War - Gilbert Doctorow, "My best advice to officials in Moscow is to stop expending valuable time and effort wooing Western journalists or their editors-in-chief with charm offensives. For the moment, the 4th Estate is a lost cause to them. Instead they should continue to do what Vladimir Putin did very well in the past: to cultivate government leaders and prominent businessmen abroad, the next Schroeders and Berlusconi’s [sic], people who can identify opportunities for promoting mutual interest. And they should move into a subset of Soft Power, namely Public Diplomacy, reaching over the heads of the media to ordinary people by facilitating their visiting Russia and seeing for themselves what Putin’s Russia looks and feels like. For that purpose, the best possible mechanism would be for Russia unilaterally to shelve visa requirements and police registration requirements for American and EU nationals."

Hasbara - Stephen Kramer, Jewish Times: "This past week, I attended a conference on hasbara (public policy to disseminate positive information about Israel)... . It was sponsored by the CPDH – Centre for Public Diplomacy and Hasbara. The venue for the event was the Jabotinsky Institute/ Etzel Museum building in Tel Aviv. Ze’ev Jabotinsky was the leader of the Revisionist political movement in the Yishuv (pre-state Israel) and a rival of David Ben- Gurion. A fierce advocate of Jewish independence, Jabotinsky led the movement for Jewish militancy. The Etzel movement, also known as the Irgun, was a right- wing paramilitary force that became part of the Israel Military Forces ( IDF) after

Israel’s declaration of Independence in May, 1948. We first heard Dr. Daniel Farb speak. ... According to Farb, Israel must point its hasbara efforts towards the 60 percent of people in the middle of most graphs: the undecided. The other 40 percent has made up its mind to either support or confront Israel. ... Farb says that hasbara should shatter stereotypes, showing a familial, personal story without bragging, which doesn’t hide the fact that Israel has problems." Image from

Into the Fray: Israel’s Pearl Harbor? - Martin Sherman, "The current situation reflecting the accumulated effect of over a decade of a well orchestrated assault on Israel’s legitimacy is the most damning indictment of Israel’s public diplomacy and of those charged with its conduct. For despite all the well-placed diagnoses of sources of virulent Judeophobic sentiment across the world, much of the blame must be allotted to ineffectual Israeli response to the clearly gathering storm clouds."

Francophonie Night on March 20 at Romania's National Art Museum - "The festival of the Francophonie will be marked in Bucharest by a Francophonie Night, which will be held on March 20, at Romania's National Art Museum, director general of the Directorate General for Public Diplomacy with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) Doris Mircea told a news conference on Thursday.

During this event, which is organized by MAE and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Embassies of Armenia, Canada, Egypt, France, Lebanon, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Switzerland, Tunisia, Vietnam, the Wallonia-Brussels Delegation, the International Organization of the Francophonie for Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Bureau for Central and Eastern Europe of the Francophone University Agency, they will award three prizes to some personalities: one for the entire activity, for a mass media representative and the third one to a personality in business. The names of the prizewinners will be made known during the Francophonie Night, where the Violoncellissimo group will give a concert." Image from

3 Women, 3 Bosses, 3 Leadership Lessons - "I had a boss who turned everything I thought I knew about public diplomacy upside down. When faced with a difficult situation in a country where the relationship between our two nations seemed like it was turning sour, she encouraged us to find opportunities to reach out to groups, places, and audiences that hadn’t heard from us in a while. Instead of retreating to the capital or only talking to the 'usual suspects' among our friends and supporters, she encouraged us to find places in the country where we hadn’t been in a long time, where people didn’t take time to visit, and where we could show that we cared about the

relationship because we took the time to just show up. I learned the value of this lesson during a weekend when she asked me to travel to a small town a few hours from the capital city to give a speech and participate in a ribbon cutting for a new piece of equipment. It was a relatively small event, but by showing up at the event we sent a message, loud and clear, that we cared about what the community cared about. Our presence there not only helped us build friendships, but produced positive media coverage, and paved the way for a public relations partnership. Sometimes you just need to show up at an event, at a conversation, or as part of an issue. It sends a message even before you say a word, and can make all the difference." Image from article

Who Owns the Syrian Revolution? The Roles and Challenges of Women and Minorities in the Syrian Uprising - "9:30 am – 11:00am | Panel 1: Women and the Future of the Syrian Revolution ... Marah Bukai[:] Ms. Bukai [a panel participant] is a Syrian American author, academic researcher, and journalist who has dedicated her professional life to building bridges between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds through cultural dialogue. She has worked as senior media adviser at Vital Voices, a lecturer at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University, and is currently Public Diplomacy Program Specialist at FSI [State Department Foreign Service Institute]."


The Independent Power of Cultural Diplomacy - Philip Seib and Martin Davidson, Huffington Post: "During the 1930s, Britain faced the dark clouds of war that were again gathering over Europe. Part of its answer, in 1934, was to found the British Council, a cultural relations body set up to build trust with the people of other countries through the arts, education, English language and its wider culture. ... Britain's own articulate and diverse citizenry

gives the British Council a depth of cultural resource that few countries can draw upon. Cultural diversity at home fosters an understanding of the importance of listening to different points of view in other nations. To listen requires both pride in British values, and the quiet self-confidence to acknowledge dissent. Independence may rile some bureaucrats, but it helps ensure the effectiveness of Britain's soft power." Image from

About the role of cultural diplomacy in the foreign policy - Tsolmon Davaa, "Cultural and humanitarian diplomacy is multifaceted including cultural policy, information and advocacy. There is a reason for naming the traditional diplomacy as the 'hard power', while the cultural or public diplomacy is called as the 'soft power'. ... Cultural policy or cultural diplomacy is one of the important tools in implementation of effective foreign policy. I have an agreement with well-known US researcher Milton C. Cummings who stated cultural diplomacy as 'exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their people to foster mutual understanding'. During the different historic development of great or small nations pay more attention to cultural policy at home and abroad. Many actors like musicians, artists, writers and dancers are going abroad. Thanks to the dramatic changes in the world, Mongols are showing their talent representing peculiar heritage culture. In the cultivation of ties for long-term relationship with other nations, Mongolian cultural society played very important role. Recently appeared new book of collective authors devoted to the centenary of Mongolian diplomatic history. But unfortunately the cultural diplomacy not touched at all. In this context, I have included my viewpoint expressed on the Feb.15th conference devoted to 90th anniversary of Dugersuren Mangal as one of the best professional diplomatist of modern Mongolia. This book is written to some degree like political and economic relations reference not serving serious scholarly work with its extremely poor bibliography. Our next topic will be about public diplomacy, which is one of the new trends of modern diplomacy."

Aspiring voice actor Ryu strengthens bond between Japan, China - Takamasa Sakurai, The Daily Yomiuri: "I first found out about Seira Ryu in January 2010 on my first cultural diplomacy trip to Beijing, where local university students told me about a Chinese girl who wanted to become a voice actor in Japan. 'I'm so glad I discovered anime. It's my destiny,' said Ryu, who made her debut in Japan and works for a leading voice acting agency, Aoni Production. Seira Ryu is her stage name. Meeting Ryu was a great starting point for my cultural relationship with China. Several months later, I met her again in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, where she often comes as an anime fan.

'When I was studying as an exchange student at college in Aichi Prefecture, I visited Tokyo for the long-anticipated Comic Market [aka Comiket] for the first time. I spent 30,000 yen or so in one day on dojinshi books,' Ryu said. 'They were so heavy I couldn't raise my arms the next day.' I've met many young people overseas who say they want to go to Comiket some day, and Ryu was one of them." Image from

ICCR regional office to be opened in city - "BHOPAL: Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the organisation that promotes country's art and culture outside India, is all set to open its 17th regional office in the city, with its first performance here on Sunday. The ICCR regional office in Bhopal is likely to be opened at the Lok Kala Parishad later this month. According to its ICCR regional officer Nityanand Shrivastava, 'The council addresses its mandate of cultural diplomacy through a broad range of activities. We would organise regular activities involving the regional artists too.' ICCR Horizon series is likely to be a regular feature in Bhopal with events planned every fortnight."


How to get Afghans to trust us once again - Fernando M. Luján, Washington Post: Any coalition action in Afghanistan -- no matter how accidental -- that feeds the perception of a Western-led war on Islam endangers the mission and destroys trust. The smallest mistakes are amplified by the Taliban through videos, magazines, DVDs, Web sites, personal visits and other methods. A committed cadre of Taliban agents will infiltrate peaceful demonstrations to incite violence and provoke a

strong coalition reaction -- so that the cycle of mistrust can begin again. To defeat this threat to the U.S.-Afghan relationship, leaders at all levels must not only avoid making unforced errors but also take actions every day to convince their Afghan colleagues, then the local population, that they respect Islam. The Afghans don’t hate us, despite the fact that sometimes we try really hard to make them hate us. Image from

Staying out of Syria's conflict: As horrible as the events there are, American intervention is not the answer, at least not now - Editorial, American intervention is not the answer, at least not now. Whether and when to become enmeshed in another country's military conflict are among the most difficult questions nations face, and the inclination to move hesitantly and carefully is a sensible one.

Image from article, with caption: A handout picture released by Local coordination Committees in Syria (LCC Syria) on Feb. 9 shows a house that was allegedly damaged after shelling by government forces, in Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs

Five myths about Vladimir Putin - Andrew S. Weiss, Washington Post: Building rapport with Putin, who has never been shy about his anti-Americanism, is not going to be easy. He’s almost 10 years older than President Obama and professes to use neither a cellphone nor the Internet.

Dealings between the two men are unlikely to match the friendly tone of Obama’s meetings with Medvedev. Throw in recent angry exchanges over Syria, Iran and alleged American interference in Russian politics, and you have the makings of a contentious relationship. Yet Putin has shown he’s able to act pragmatically when it serves Russia’s interest. Image from article

What’s so bad about American parents, anyway? - Brigid Schulte, Washington Post: Are American parents really that bad? The simple answer is no. Of course we love our children and want what’s best for them. Our problem is that we’re not sure what, exactly -- in our driven, achievement-oriented country -- is best.

Perhaps instead of snapping up the latest foreign fad or obsessing over every international test score ranking, American parents would do well to look no further than a very American ideal: the pursuit of happiness. Image from article

Anti-Zionist propaganda as literary criticism: How the Guardian demonizes Israel without really trying - Anti-Israel bias at the Guardian can turn up in the strangest places. A case in point is Guardian literary critic Ben Child’s story (in the Culture section of the paper) on the Iranian film, A Separation. The narrative not advanced by Guardian journalists such as Child is the truly remarkable fact that a film shown, and wildly popular, in Israel, was produced in a nation which seeks the Jews’ destruction.

Wash. Post's Palestinian propaganda falsifies history and the Bible - Leo Rennert, American Thinker: A journalistic selectivity which tells worlds about the paper's anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias in its news columns.

Propaganda War against Syria: Journalists are being held captive by 'rebels', not Syrian national army - Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network: As an on-the-spot privileged witness of the negotiations, Thierry Meyssan gives an account of the situation: the journalists are kept as prisoners by the Free "Syrian" Army which uses them as human shields.

The Battle for the Minds: Modern Gaming and Propaganda - Stuart Mario, Propaganda in videogames is becoming ever-more prevalent, harnessed by governments, Special Interest Groups, militaries and the PR industry to indoctrinate an overwhelmingly young audience of gamers. In the popular Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises, we see it exhibited in its most crude form. The manipulation of thought, the manufacturing of consent and shaping of ideologies has its modern roots at the start of the First World War. The UK’s Ministry of information, established to whip a pacifist civilian population into rabid anti-German fanatics, shaped forever the landscape in the Battle for the Minds. Its successes did not go unnoticed, impressing the business world, spawning the modern PR industry, governments, who decided that control of its population must be fought through the mind and not force and even Hitler, who claimed that Germany lost the war as a result of superior Anglo-American propaganda. Over the years, propaganda has worn many hats, vulgarly exposing itself in the clichéd "Your Country Needs You" recruitment posters and later, more subliminally, intertwined in the fabric of media and entertainment, such as movies. As the channels of communication have become more sophisticated, so too has the propaganda.

Facing dwindling Army enlistment numbers, the U.S. Government devised a new strategy in recruiting soldiers; videogames. On July 4th, 2002, it funded and released via free download America’s Army, an FPS title that according to the official website “provides young Americans with a virtual web-based environment in which they can explore an Army career.” It presents the life of a soldier as a high octane experience where daily life includes wiping out brown-skinned foes with garbled, alarmingly Arabic sounding accents in adrenaline-filled shootouts and choosing your arsenal from a wide variety of high-tech weaponry. Its effects have been lauded, as in the recent book by MIT faculty David Edery and Ethan Mollick: Changing the Game: How Video Games are Transforming the Future of Business, where they claim to have witnessed “tangible evidence of the power of games to educate” before praising America’s Army’s effectiveness “30% of all Americans age 16 to 24 had a more positive impression of the Army because of the game and, even more amazingly, the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined." Perhaps a more famous example, was the FPS Quest for Bush released by the Global Islamic Media Front in 2006, in which you must gun down a squad of American soldiers en-route to the final Boss: George W. Bush. As shocking as that may sound, consider the recent Battlefield and Call of Duty series, where incendiary images of the world outside of America are presented so uncontroversially, it's easy to forget we are exposed to such blatant propaganda more than we might think. The Call of Duty and Battlefield series have sold more than 30 million copies combined worldwide and set the standard for first-person shooters in the gaming industry. Gaming booths with COD or Battlefield have become a staple at military recruitment fares and military bases, blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality for potential recruits. Over the evolution of the series, both games have ratcheted up the propaganda with every new installment and offer eerily one sided, status-quo positions on current (and past) affairs. Image from entry

Torches of Freedom: Women and Smoking Propaganda - Wendy Christensen, Edward Bernays (1891-1995) is largely considered the founder of public relations (or “engineering consent,” as he called it) but is not known very well outside of the marketing and advertising fields. A nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays was the first to theorize that people could be made to want things they don’t need by appealing to unconscious desires (to be free, to be successful etc.). Bernays was a member of the U.S. Government’s Committee on Public Information (CPI), which successfully convinced formally isolationist Americans to support entrance into World War I. While propaganda was commonly thought of as a negative way of manipulating the masses that should be avoided, Bernays believed that it was necessary for the functioning of a society, as otherwise people would be overwhelmed with too many choices.

After WWI, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to encourage women to start smoking. While men smoked cigarettes, it was not publicly acceptable for women to smoke. Bernays staged a dramatic public display of women smoking during the Easter Day Parade in New York City. He then told the press to expect that women suffragists would light up “torches of freedom” during the parade to show they were equal to men. Like the “You’ve come a long way, baby” ads, this campaign commodified women’s progress and desire to be considered equal to men. Image from article

Awesome Social Media Propaganda Posters! - Among them the below:


"At Pennsylvania State University, librarians realized that most of their 16-millimeter films were never being checked out  ... including 'Introducing the Mentally Retarded' (1964), 'We Have an Addict in the House' (1973) and

'Ovulation and Egg Transport in the Rat' (1951)."

--David Streitfeld, "In a Flood Tide of Digital Data, an Ark Full of Books," New York Times; image from

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