Dean Slaughter: thank you and your colleagues at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for this invitation to deliver a public address as part of your ongoing Public Diplomacy Initiative.
I believe it important for those of us involved in public diplomacy and broadcasting to recognize one stark truth. The communications revolution has rendered elements of the public diplomacy tradition as relevant as buggy whips in the 1930’s. We’re in a whole new communications ball game with satellite television and the Internet, and we need a whole new strategy for communicating with the world.
In the public diplomacy world, international broadcasting has always been a Cinderella-like figure. When Voice of America went on the air in 1942, the very first words we broadcast were a promise to tell the truth. We said that whether the news was favorable to the United States or unfavorable to our interests, our broadcasts would reflect accurately what’s happening in the world. And the controversy over this pledge has smoldered in traditional public diplomacy circles ever since.
As late as even last year, with the issuance of the Djerejian Report