Monday, July 15, 2013

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans

That is the title of this Foreign Policy piece by John Hudson on the lifting of Smith-Mundt.  His article is decent, and relatively on-point (although see the PS below).  He probably should have talked to Mountainrunner Matt, and while he referenced that particularly poor piece by the late-Michael Hastings, he did fine to talk to Thornberry as well.

But whoever came up with the title:  "U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans" did a real disservice to the article.  I commented:
Hudson, your article is fine but try to get a better, less sensational headline writer because it taints your good work on this piece. A propaganda-ish headline on a delicate subject of what constitutes "propaganda" in an American context sours the discussion.
The title in itself is propaganda.  I define propaganda as the use of a small bit of information to try to coercively (and corrosively) shape perception.

And the trolls are already out in force.
RichTheEngineer levantine18 Typical leftist, wanting to "nuance" and "sensitively discuss" something ad-nauseum, without any result.  Thank God most leftists are ball-less, castrati.
I responded:
RichTheEngineer Tough talk, troll.  I used run performing arts academies in Iraq, and take bluegrass bands across the 'Stans.  WTF do you do with your big International Relations balls?  Thank God no one listens to losers like you... 
Back-and-forth aside, this is the second of Mr. Hudson's articles in the last two weeks (The last one on digital diplomacy that I wrote about) that were fine pieces but  skewed by the headlines.  It is especially unfortunate that the debate over repeal of Smith-Mundt continues to be plagued by hyperbole.

So last week it was defending Foggy Bottom; this week it is defending VOA.

PS: Yelena correctly brought up some points that I kinda glanced over, and perhaps the piece was poorer than my initial perusal:
The author needs to get his head checked... what's up with all this language?! --‎propaganda‬, ‪‎agitprop‬, ‪mammoth‬ of broadcasting?! 1st: lack of funding and support has been slowly killing US foreign broadcasting AND its quality for years now; 2nd: the Internet has been providing righteous Americans access to that programming for more than a decade now; 3rd: maybe, JUST MAYBE, there will be a little more awareness and interest about the world when there's more access to better-quality international reporting. But no, the Cold War is, still, very much alive and kicking, and columnists still can't pass an opportunity to use "propaganda", "Pravda", and "agitprop" in a piece... ‪‎UGH‬ ‪

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