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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.
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.
Maybe public diplomacy journalism is only dying, or maybe it has just become boring to write about the subject these days. This seems to be so on both sides of the pond.
Permit me, if you please, to put on my hat as a former White House staffer and USIA manager to tell you what I read into Judith McHale’s becoming the next Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy.
Ms. McHale brings with her an impressive record as former president of Discovery Communications, and it is true as has been noted that she has no public diplomacy experience. But neither did many of the now-storied USIA directors of yore, who are recalled fondly.
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 Alexa.com.
It should come as no surprise that President Obama granted his first formal TV interview to the Middle East Arabic channel Al Arabiya. In the Middle East, the moderate news channel Al Arabiya drubs other Arabic news channels in popularity, including the controversial Al Jazeera and the U.S. government's Al Hurra,- the latter of which is getting better numbers than before, but nothing to match Al Arabiya's.
The much maligned Alhurra, the U.S. government's Arabic TV service, is now a "go-to" news channel in Iraq, one of the largest TV markets in the Middle East of more than 28 million population.
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