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Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on trends in U.S. public diplomacy during the almost two months that this column has been offered here: what we have seen are developments that confirm what we can call the Ted Turner rule.

In 1948, gasoline was 26 cents a gallon, a new car was $1,500, and you could drive it to see Bob Hope in the movie "Paleface," or head home to watch Milton Berle cavorting on your small, round, green TV screen.

1948 was also the year that Congress enacted the Smith-Mundt Act that has, for more than half a century, prevented Americans from understanding how a critically important part of the U.S. government carries out its responsibilities: Under that law, domestic distribution of U.S. government media content meant for overseas audiences was forbidden.

A Reporter Remembered: Dan Rather, Ed Murrow and the changing face of news and information.

In the 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy wanted a voice of America with impeccable credentials, he turned to Edward R. Murrow. In his career at CBS News, reporting live from wartime London, later anchoring nightly news on radio and inventing much of modern broadcast news, Murrow personified the dedication to fair and unbiased news and information that Kennedy wanted as the face of American public diplomacy of his time.

February 18, 2005

Let’s say Al Jazeera goes south, then what?

The Arabic-language satellite channel from Qatar has changed the way people receive information, especially in the Middle East, and it has changed the way information is fashioned and perceived. So if Al-Jazeera goes on the block and new owners take over, which now appears likely, or if it simply goes dark, which is unlikely but one never knows, things will never be the same. Like him or not, the Emir of Qatar, who came up with the idea, has Chutzpah. Okay, let’s call it that vision thing.

Although there's no hint of it in the President's budget to the U.S. Congress, Hollywood has come to the Potomac, and bearing gifts, no less. This may be another example of how numbers can be misleading.

Washington, Feb. 4, 2005 -- There are those who -- no doubt -- were disappointed that President Bush did not mention public diplomacy per se in his State of the Union address. But others heard it by association:

Washington, DC -- OK, if The New York Times says so, it must be true, right?

Washington, DC--What will happen to news media if freedom spreads throughout the world, a hope articulated by President Bush in his inaugural address?

It will be a world where local television stations with Eyewitness News formats feature "Five on Your Side," "Traffic and Weather Together," and sports, of course, and news about women and kids. News you can use, in other words.

At least that’s what seems to be shaping up in Iraq, where more than 20 local TV stations are now licensed to broadcast.