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February 17, 2006

Comments

collounsbury

Awaiting eagerly, as always.

I remain bemused, however, by the magical thinking with respect to blogs and internet comms in re mass opinion in the MENA region.

For all that I am well aware of the popularity of internet chat rooms with the urban youth, it's still fairly marginal - by reasons of literacy rates alone.

The obsession with blogs also seems like navel gazing and mistaking American developments as universal. Radio and Sat TV are and will remain the key mass media in MENA for some time.

the aardvark

I agree about sat TV and radio being the mass media that matters - my argument is that the internet route is good for reaching an already mobilized audience, the kind of people inclined to search out various forums looking for the latest Zarqawi video, but not well suited for reaching the mass audience. Whether that matters depends on whether or not you want to reach a mass audience or your base.

Donna Oglesby

What is stunning to me is the shift in the locus of discussion about the value of strategic communication from the State Department to DOD under the Bush administration.

Once upon a time, public diplomacy was a component of "diplomacy" best understood as our politics abroad. Now, while the secretary of defense is speaking to the Council of Foreign Relation about foreign media and media strategy, the responsibile undersecretary of state, Karen Hughes, is busy lining up corporate hospitality sponsors for American airports:

"Another Hughes initiative is the announcement last month that the State Department planned to launch a pilot project to turn Washington's Dulles and Houston's George H.W. Bush airports into "model airports" that will be more welcoming to the country's 50 million international visitors a year...The idea is to use corporate-style marketing techniques, theme-park crowd management and Hollywood glitz to improve the arrival experience and send an upbeat message to a captive audience." (WSJ February 17, 2006; Page A1)

While the State Department is following a bizare pr/advertising approach to celebrating America, DOD is leading our international media analysis and engagement. Seeing international media as "battlespace" rather that political space and shifting funding and control of public diplomacy (is it public diplomacy?) to DOD wrong foots us in both understanding and engaging foreign publics in the 21st century. It is no wonder Aardvark wisdom is ignored. Sad to see that the old lessons about "where you sit is where you stand" are lost to our current government.

collounsbury

Bou Aradvrk:
my argument is that the internet route is good for reaching an already mobilized audience, the kind of people inclined to search out various forums looking for the latest Zarqawi video, but not well suited for reaching the mass audience
Right I agree, sorry, I was thinking with respect to my comment, to a general sort of theme I hear.

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