internet diplomacy

Barack Obama may be the best exponent of American public diplomacy since Benjamin Franklin, inspiring a newly hopeful attitude about the United States in many parts of the world. But beyond the president himself U.S. public diplomacy lacks coherence and impact.

July 3, 2009

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.

What do the following have in common? Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and North Korea’s sentencing of the two American female journalists to hard labor.

Answer: Each is relevant to Current TV, a U.S. satellite TV channel and Web site.

When will China ever learn? It’s not how loud you speak, or how many times you say something, but what you say that counts. Reports that the Communist Party of China (CPC) has launched a new English-language newspaper, the Global Times, should be greeted with the usual mixture of delight (yet more evidence of the Chinese jumping on the public diplomacy bandwagon) and cynicism (yet more evidence of the Chinese jumping on the public diplomacy bandwagon).

In the last couple of years the U.S. Department of State has stepped boldly into the world of new technology. In his brief tenure as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman seemed eager to try all manner of Web 2.0 approaches to engage the global public. Some efforts have been praised, as with the contributions of State Department diplomats to blogs in the Middle East. Others have raised eye-brows, like Deputy Assistant Secretary Coleen Graffy's excursions into the realm of Twitter.

The Voice of America has one of the most popular Internet news websites in the world, and in the United States as well, based on website page turns and user reach.

In the battle of Internet websites to attract the most user traffic, the one site has emerged as the most popular in the entire world. At the other end of the spectrum, of course, is the inevitable loser, with the dubious honor of being ranked one millionth in website popularity. It could have been worse, as there are almost 110 million active websites, but only the top one-million are ranked in order of their daily traffic by