Communication Leadership Blog

Adam Powell

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

By Adam Powell | May 6, 2015 0

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."

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Reeves warns of contemporary concentration camps

By CCLP Staff | April 22, 2015 0

USC Annenberg journalism professor, author and historian professor and historian Richard Reeves says there is no doubt in his mind that the United States could again create concentration camps like those used during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

"If a few incidents of terrorism happen again, we could start to round up Muslims in great numbers as we did with the Japanese with no charges except for their religion, just as the Japanese had no charges except for the color of their skin and they looked like the enemy," said Reeves. "The book is a cautionary tale. The best and the brightest and most revered of Americans were all in on this, and they knew it was unconstitutional and wrong, but it was popular."

Reeves is a senior fellow at the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP). He spoke at a campus event to discuss his new book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II. The book is drawing wide praise, including from the Los Angeles Times, which calls Infamy "a compulsively readable, emotionally rich and passionately written account...as cathartic as 'Antigone,'" the Sophocles tragedy.

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Geoffrey Cowan and Richard Reeves

Listen to the full audio recording of the event here. (Courtesy of Kristin Doidge)

"One of the things that have made the Annenberg School so great the last several years has been having Richard Reeves--who is really one of the nation's top political reporters and biographers and historians--on our faculty," said Geoffrey Cowan, USC University Professor and CCLP director.

Reeves said he wrote the book because of its implications for American society. "We are a people of the present and future," he said. "We don't look back very much. It's one of our strengths and one of our weaknesses."

He explained the circumstances under which the rounding up of Japanese Americans took place, including racial hysteria and fear, as well as the conditions they lived in once interned. Reeves said "jailed" is a more accurate term to describe it, rather than "interned."

One of the main revelations of Infamy is its portrayal of unlikely villains: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, California Attorney General and later U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, journalist Edward R. Murrow, Walter Lippmann, and even Dr. Seuss, all of whom were cheerleaders and ringleaders of what Reeves called "another dark stain on American history" alongside slavery and the treatment of Native Americans.

"It's a shameful but maybe instructive piece of American history, and something that we all really need to know about," said Cowan. "The thing that's so cautionary about the book is that this can happen again with the best people."

In the April 23 Los Angeles Times review, Karl Greenfield writes, "Reeves' excellent Infamy, the first popular, general history of the subject in more than 25 years, reminds us that not only can it happen here, it did."

Click here to listen to Logan Heley of USC Annenberg Radio News interviewing Reeves about his new book.

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This post was written by Justin Chapman, CCLP Project Fellow. (Photos by Liz Krane)

Russian media critic named visiting fellow

By CCLP Staff | April 21, 2015 0

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Vasily Gatov, a Russian media researcher and author based in Boston, has been named a visiting fellow with the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. Gatov, 49, has more than 28 years of professional experience in domestic and international media.

"With his impressive background in both academia and journalism, Vasily Gatov is in a position to make an important contribution to issues of the kind that CCLP tackles on a regular basis," said CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan. "We are looking forward to research, blogs and conversations that will build on his experience with new media and with the challenges that face the Russian press, and to conversations about the role of propaganda and public diplomacy as practiced by Russian state television."

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VOA chief cites imbalance in international media

By CCLP Staff | April 20, 2015 0

The director of Voice of America called attention to the slanted news coverage by state-owned media outlets in foreign countries during the keynote luncheon of an international policy conference co-sponsored by the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) on April 17, 2015.

David Ensor was interviewed by CCLP senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III at the Pacific Council on International Policy's Spring Conference. CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan, former VOA director, introduced Ensor and Powell to the more than 200 people from governmental, non-profit, academic, and private sectors who gathered at the historic and elegant California Club in downtown Los Angeles for the all-day conference.

"It seems lately, does it not, that the world is on fire," said Ensor, "and is awash in propaganda. Massively funded voices for undemocratic and violent groups are proliferating in this digital age, and it seems like a lot of good information sometimes is not. Voice of America prevailed in the Cold War as a short wave radio broadcaster providing Soviet systems with reliable information. Could Voice of America be part of the answer this time?"

Ensor played a VOA video report on such propaganda and misinformation distributed by entities and countries like ISIS, Iran, China, and Russia. The video emphasized that VOA reports both sides of every story, whereas state-owned media in these countries often do not.

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Adam Clayton Powell III interviewing David Ensor

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Easter egg of the two-headed eagle

By CCLP Staff | April 16, 2015 0

This column is authored by CCLP senior fellow Vasily Gatov, founder of the Novosti Media Lab

BOSTON--As the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran was concluded in Geneva, the world's press engaged in a commentary race on the meaning and implications of the agreement. One may expect a significant difference in public attitude in the U.S., EU and the Middle East; as various countries have different approaches and positions on the issues of security, consequences of the accord, and even the vision of the strategic implications. But when it comes to Russian media coverage of the Geneva process itself and the commentary afterward, the world is portrayed as a completely different place.

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Adam Powell

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

By Adam Powell | April 10, 2015 0

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 who have studied the roots of American public diplomacy.

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John Brown, Caitlin Schindler, Aaron Marrs, and Adam Howard at the CCLP Washington Communication Leadership forum (Photo by Joe Johnson)

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Fellows say political polarization is increasing

By CCLP Staff | March 23, 2015 0

Political polarization is growing in this country, said CCLP senior fellows Matthew Dowd and Narda Zacchino at a Communication Leadership Roundtable at the new Wallis Annenberg Hall on March 23. The data, Dowd said, shows that "we're at the most polarized state that we've ever been in."

BridgingDivide1 (1).jpgLeft to right: Narda Zacchino, Matthew Dowd, Geoffrey Cowan, and Geoffrey Baum

Dowd and Zacchino were joined by CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan and CCLP advisory board members and senior fellows who were in town for a board meeting prior to the event, as well as staff and students from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

"Some of it is a natural human tendency of confirmation bias, which means we seek out information that confirms what we already believe and ignore information that makes us uncomfortable," said Dowd. "And because of our access to information now it's much more than it used to be. It's easier now for Democrats or progressives or liberals to access information that confirms their beliefs, and for conservatives or Republicans to access information that confirms their beliefs, and then what that does is increase the conflict."

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California public higher ed needs sufficient funding, Baum writes in op-ed

By CCLP Staff | March 12, 2015 0

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California's public higher education segments - community colleges, California State University, and University of California - require adequate funding in order to continue the vision laid out decades ago in the state's Master Plan, according to a new op-ed in the Sacramento Bee penned by CCLP managing director and president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors Geoffrey Baum. The article was co-written by Lou Monville, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, and Bruce Varner, chair of the UC Board of Regents.

"Ensuring the dream of higher education is achievable for all Californians depends heavily on adequate funding for all three sectors of higher education," the state education leaders wrote. "The growing emphasis on community colleges - on the state and federal level - is a positive and welcome development. But an isolated increase in support for community colleges could be undermined by insufficient support for our other segments."

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Reeves exposes ugly truth of Japanese internment camps in new book

By CCLP Staff | March 9, 2015 0

CCLP senior fellow Richard Reeves examines the key causes and dire consequences of the Japanese-American internment in relocation camps during World War II in his new book, concentrating on a shortsighted military strategy and anti-Japanese sentiment following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

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"A day that will live in infamy," President Franklin D. Roosevelt said of the attack in asking Congress for a Declaration of War, after which the president himself signed an executive order that moved more than 120,000 Japanese, most of them American citizens, "behind barbed-wire and machine gun towers, into concentration camps spread across the most barren and hostile deserts and swamps of the country," said Reeves. "Their only crime: looking like the enemy."

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II provides an authoritative account of the incarceration of these American citizens and Japanese immigrants during the war. Men we usually consider heroes - FDR, Earl Warren, Edward R. Murrow - were in this case villains, but we also learn of many Americans who took great risks to defend the rights of the internees.

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LA Theatre Works to honor Geoffrey Cowan

By CCLP Staff | March 9, 2015 0

Well-known as a best-selling author, public interest lawyer, academic administrator, government official, distinguished professor, and Emmy Award-winning producer, CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan is also a notable playwright who will be honored by LA Theatre Works to celebrate their decades-long collaboration.

LATWlogo.pngCowan has worked with LA Theatre Works for 25 years on his award-winning play Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, which originally premiered as a radio play in 1991 in front of a live audience for national broadcast on NPR and later toured the country in 2007-8, had a five week run in New York City in 2010, and played to audiences throughout China in 2011 and 2013. The play celebrates the importance of the press, the First Amendment, and an independent judiciary. In New York and China CCLP presented "Top Secret Talks," a series of panel discussions with leading journalists, scholars and policymakers about the contemporary lessons of the Pentagon Papers story.

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