Country music explored as a tool of U.S. diplomacy

WASHINGTON – It is well known that Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck toured the world as American Jazz Ambassadors, and American symphony orchestras have played throughout the world. Less well known is the role country music has played and is playing in U.S. public diplomacy. That was the focus of this month's CCLP Communication Leadership Lunch Forum here, presented by David Firestein (pictured right), a China expert and vice president at the East West Institute. "For public diplomacy to be effective," said Firestein, "it has to be organic, personal and emotional." He added that it must be "true to who…

How phone companies redline cell phone customers into digital ghettos

This op-ed was originally published in The Hill Why can't most inexpensive cell phones receive life-saving emergency weather alerts? Why, unlike people in the rest of the world, can't Americans listen to emergency information broadcasts on their cell phones? These are not accidents or unanticipated consequences. These are the results of deliberate decisions that have been made on the design, regulation and operation of the U.S. cell phone system. Nearly a decade ago, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who now chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee, anticipated the need to expand access to emergency information. "With nearly 200 million Americans…

‘The Little Red Dot’ turns 50: Singapore’s five decades of soft power

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Singapore's emergence from a tiny third world island nation to a first world power – with no natural resources and a population smaller than some U.S. cities – was the topic of discussion at a CCLP forum here on Monday. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore's Ambassador to the United States, noted that decades ago, Singapore was dismissed as "a little red dot." But what may have been intended as an insult became a term of pride, with "Little Red Dot" institutions sprouting through the country. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore's Ambassador to the United States "In 1965 Singapore was…

CCTV America fights credibility issues, reaches audiences far beyond the U.S.

WASHINGTON – CCTV America must constantly battle the perception that its funders in Beijing are slanting its news broadcasts, but that may not be the case – or at least it may be an exaggeration. That was the word from Mike Walter, a news anchor at CCTV America, who spoke at Monday's CCLP Communications Leadership Forum here in Washington DC. "We have to work every day to build credibility," he said. "We have to work harder than other networks."…

Roots of U.S. public diplomacy in 1917 echo debates of 2015

WASHINGTON – 98 years ago, the United States government formally inaugurated the first American agency of public diplomacy, and it faced the same questions in 1917 during World War I that the U.S. faces in 2015 against ISIS. That agency, the Committee on Public Information (CPI) was created to counter German propaganda and to create a more favorable image of the U.S. both at home and around the world. This agency and its mission was the topic of the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy's Washington Communication Leadership forum on Monday, featuring historians from the State Department and academic experts…