Through the use of new technology, President Obama has made it clear that when he speaks in Ghana this Saturday, July 11, he intends to move from monologue to dialogue as the U.S. State Department opens up venues for greater public participation in the conversation.
Today, a tale about what journalism has become, with implications for all those concerned with the weakening firewall between “news” and “message.”
It’s a tale of two Posts — Washington and Huffington.
A revolution is underway in the news media, one neatly illustrated by how these two competitive news gathering organizations — the Washington Post and Huffington Post — have themselves made news in recent days. And, I’ll warn you, if you don’t already know, it’s the Washington Post that comes out looking bad.
Cultural historians mostly discourage making cross-history comparisons of important events, since they take place in fundamentally different contexts and the parallels that are drawn are rarely meaningful or useful. With that caveat, I will argue how President Obama's administration might best utilize the soft power of cultural diplomacy by recalling a similarly pivotal moment from March 4, 1933.
Notwithstanding its many virtues, there are all kinds of possible pitfalls associated with public diplomacy.
As the slots get filled for new U.S. ambassadors, I have to modify my earlier praise: too many sensitive overseas posts are being given to Obama fundraisers. For every Carlos Pascual (veteran envoy now assigned to Mexico), there now appear to be several David Jacobsons (Illinois lawyer and Obama-Biden fundraiser set to go to Canada). South Africa, for example, falls into the latter category: an important country in which the next U.S.
Like many great orators President Obama knows how to quote scripture to maximum impact. His Cairo speech included passages from the Holy Koran, which his audience applauded.
President Barack Obama inherited two major public diplomacy problems. The first was the obvious crisis in America's communication with the world and the attendant decline in America's global standing. The second was the identification of the process of public diplomacy with the administration of George W. Bush. It was a paradox. The administration could not summon the cure without reminding people of one of the causes of the disease. The linking of Bush with Public Diplomacy was not wholly fair. The term was brought into its modern use in the U.S.
U.S. government international communicators shifted into max overdrive from both sides of that protective "firewall," to report on what may become known as one of the great White House public diplomacy efforts ever: President Obama's June 4 address from Cairo, Egypt to the Middle East and beyond. The speech was unquestionably both a news event and a public diplomacy activity, so there are times when the mythical "firewall," to protect the independence of government international journalistic endeavors, may be ethically breached. This was one of them.