International Communication

Welcome to our blog, we hope that through our thoughts, opinions, and criticisms (constructive of course), you will come to love the field of international communications as much as we do!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beyond the "rainbow coalition"

One of the most interesting points of the essay Postcolonial Approaches to Communication (Shome and Hedge) was the criticism of “the packaging of otherness”. Postcolonialist scholars reject the rhetoric of multiculturalism that sees cultures as retaining their “pristine flavors” and being “separate in their authenticity”. This rhetoric takes away the underlying power structures and colonial histories that ethnic cultures have been subject to. That way, multiculturalism can be used to further perpetuate “the normativity of whiteness”.

The scary thing about this is how people and media products can use “the cosmetic approach to multiculturalism” (inadvertently) to perpetuate current power structures, even if they're seemingly challenging them. As the professor says, it's not a group of conspirators sitting on a table and stroking their beards. It's something that happens without them even noticing it most of the time. That makes it more difficult to challenge.

I like that the postcolonial scholars are trying to bring the past into the present in their studies. It really cannot be erased, and it challenges the idea of a pristine culture. If you go back far enough, our histories are very interconnected and, as they say, constitutive of each other. I don't think this erases difference, but it does give it another meaning and has made me rethink the concept of multiculturalism.

Freedom of Speech on the Internet

One of the major emerging themes in my international communication classes this fall is the question of Internet ownership. We’ve seen this developing battleground through the Arab Spring where the power of social media as a tool for organization was recognized by the Egyptian government through its closure of the Internet and other telecommunication networks.
This has led to a larger discussion of Internet ownership at international communication conferences, including at the ICT for Development Conference this fall in Kenya.  Till recently, I believed that the battle for freedom on the Internet lay outside of the United States, particularly in countries where freedom of speech was not guaranteed by law.  However, this latest incident in Kansas shocked me:
A Kansas teen, Emma Sullivan, tweeted that Governor Brownback “sucked” at a school event, and was subsequently reprimanded by her principal told to write an apology letter to Brownback as part of the damage control.  This tweet was reported to the Sullivan’s principal by Brownback’s social media team.   An integral part of the United States constitution is freedom of speech, and not only did Brownbeck’s team and the school principal attempt to violate the constitution, they also sought to exert control over Sullivan’s personal twitter page.  Thankfully, this did not escape US citizen or media attention and Brownbeck has since made an apology to the Sullivan and the school has followed up saying that an apology letter from Sullivan to Brownbeck is not required.

I’d like to end this post with a highlight from the above article:
“Speaking as a taxpayer in Kansas, I’m more than a little annoyed that my government has cut funding for the arts and other programs, but apparently thinks it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars to have the governor’s office troll the Twitter feeds of high school kids to make sure they’re not saying anything mean about him,” wrote Alex Knapp, social media editor at Forbes. “I’m also annoyed that the schools think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars to punish students for what they say on their private Twitter feeds. The whole exercise is absurd.”

- Claire

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hindering Diplomacy

Why does the US, land of free speech and freedom of the press, have such a hard time with public diplomacy? We spend millions of dollars on advertising products and services, and politics, but we can't engage with foreign publics through discussion and communication. Even now, with negative attitudes about the US rampant, and the US Military waging a war to win the "hearts and minds" of people,  there is still widespread doubt surrounding the use of Public Diplomacy.

The United Nations is the most important forum for public diplomacy where the US can exercise it's soft power. However, there is such vehement rhetoric around leaving the United Nations and not paying our dues, including recently withdrawing funds from UNESCO, that we are ruining our chances at using public diplomacy successfully. These actions pose great challenges to US diplomats and often have a negative effect on foreign publics who see the US as belligerent rather than diplomatic.  My main question for those who advocate leaving the UN is how on earth is one expected to be a part of, or lead, the conversation when you aren't even in the room?

The US cannot "go it alone" and needs to spend more time cultivating understanding of US foreign policy in foreign nations. Public Diplomacy should not be painted as a weak act to engage in, or an ineffective tool, it is extremely important in today's world of instant communication and access to information. If the US is not involved in the dialogue, someone else will control it and we will have no chance to counter or control what is said about the US. If anti-UN activists get their way, we will end up wasting our power behind a closed door talking to ourselves and wondering why no one is listening to us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Has Al-Jazeera become the "loyal opposition?"

I used to be Al-Jazeera's number one fan.  I felt like it stood for the colonized instead of the colonizers, that it was representing the majority of the people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and especially the Middle East that were staring down the barrel of Western imperialism.  There were times when I was glued to it during Israel's raids on Gaza, when it showed footage you would never see on any of the other corporate networks, shots of Palestinian flesh being melted to bone from the white phosphorus dropped by the Israeli military. 

In Powers and El-Nawawy's article "Al-Jazeera English and Global News Networks: Clash of Civilizations or Cross-Cultural dialogue?' the authors show the results of a study in which many of the viewers polled also felt the same way about the network.  Had I read this in 2009 when the study was released I would have probably shared their same sentiments. 

But, over the last year I've noticed a shift in Al-Jazeera's coverage that has left a bad taste in my mouth, to the point where I've pretty much stopped viewing it all together.

The network has thrown any kind of objectivity it once had out the window when it comes to the so-called "Arab Spring."  It has become a cheerleader for the so-called "revolutionaries" in Egypt, Libya, and Syria  when the goals of these protesters happen to dovetail nicely with American plans for regime change in the region.  But when movements begin to threaten friends of Qatar-such as we've seen in Bahrain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia-the network coughs, shuffles its feet, and mumbles a few words. 

The "Arab Spring" is not a spontaneous, grassroots uprising of frustrated youth looking for greater freedom and democracy.  It's the continuation of the neo-liberal agenda to reshape the Middle East that was laid out years ahead of time.  It's the use of Facebook warriors to implement regime change.  And when that doesn't work, as in the case of Libya, it's a good excuse to sell weapons and military contracts in the name of "protecting civilians," even while NATO is slaughtering them at the same time.

Al-Jazeera has gone completely over to the dark side.  As soon as Hilary Clinton declared it to be "real news" back in March I knew they had made some kind of deal that compromised their former integrity.  The goal of journalism should be to hold people in power, and any news organization that is getting praise heaped on it by the State Department, which formerly regarded Al-Jazeera as an enemy, should be suspect. 

Al-Jazeera has become the "loyal opposition."  These days, while pretending to represent a challenge to imperialism, it ends up supporting it.  This became even more clear to me last summer when it created a Wikileaks-style whisteblower site.  
( Only, on their version you aren't allowed to leak material unless you've obtained it legally, and they don't guarantee the whistleblower the right to confidentiality and anonymity.  This is exactly the kind of thing the loyal opposition would do-pretending to reach out to those wanting to expose corruption while, at the same time, reserving the right to hand them over to the authorities like Bradly Manning.  You can't have it both ways, Al-Jazeera.

Nowhere, however, has their reporting fallen more flat than when it comes to the U.S. orchestrated invasion of Libya and the overthrow of the Gadhafi government.  Since Al-Jazeera is owned by the Emir of Qatar, and Qatar has provided troops for the Libyan invasion (as well as funding for anti-Gadhafi media) it is impossible to take their claim of unbiased coverage seriously.  They have cheered on the CIA-backed rebels from the very start.  Any rumor that the insurgents wanted to spread, whether it was Gadhafi's Viagra-fueled troops, his planned masscres of civilians, or his use of African mercenaries, was quickly picked up and spread by Al-Jazeera, even though there is no evidence to back any of these rumors.  News anchors would take cell phone calls from anonymous "protesters" and play their unverified claims live over the air.

At the same time, it showed a complete lack of interest in covering any of the many civilian casualties caused by NATO.  NATO bombed many civilian targets, such as the Al-Fatah University, and the Great Man-Made river irrigation project.  There have been many reports that coalition forces are using depleted uranium munitions which will leave radiation in the soil for thousands of years. 

At least one former Al-Jazeera journalist, Ghassan bin Jeddo, agrees with me.  He resigned from the network last summer, saying publicly that "Al-Jazeera has abandoned professionalism and objectivity, turning from a media source into an operation room that incites and mobilizes."  Now that we have the head of Al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfa, resigning in September and being replaced by a member of the Qatari royal family, we can only expect their future coverage to fit even more smoothly into the plans laid out by the U.S., Qatar, and it's gang of dictator friends in the gulf.    

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The US' Internet Regulations may soon seem A LOT like China's

Much of our class has touched upon communication ownership.  From the telegraph to the radiowave we have read and discussed government and private sector control over these society-changing technologies.  We have also frequently compared China’s authoritarian regulation over the Internet against the US’ liberal Internet policies.  However, as noted in this NY Times Op-Ed,, the Protect IP Act has been introduced in the Senate and a similar bill known as, Stop Online Piracy Act, in the House both of which propose regulations that would have effects on Internet users similar to those experienced by Chinese citizens. 

As noted in the Mattelart reading, “’The mysterious magic of being able, with a simple click of a mouse, to send a full length movie hurtling with the speed of light to any part of the planet, is a marketing dream and an anti-piracy nightmare.”  These two bills seek to contain intellectual property, which is reasonable, yet at the expense of  “democratic discourse” at home and abroad. 

However, it is this writer’s opinion that the government should concentrate efforts on further strengthening its bill on patents which would support those producers of “intellectual property” to create.  Why don’t we concentrate on displacing “patent trolls” which would encourage innovation rather than infringing the communication of its citizens which could also stifle these same producers access to creative, knowledge, information flows?

- Claire

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Power of The Daily Show

Bingchun Meng's article about the power of E Gao in China reminded me of a story with John Stewart and the Daily Show. Because of the high censorship of the internet and media in China, Chinese citizens use E Gao, or satire and puns, in order to convey meanings and share their own political communication within China. But how does this concept work within the US, especially with a "free press" and Internet Freedom?

The Daily Show is not anything new, and in fact Bingchun Meng mentions the show in his article. The popularity of John Stewarts satire about US Politics has caused high ratings and a legitimization of his show. Many friends and colleagues of mine watch the Daily Show not for mere entertainment, but because they view it as a legitimate news source. We even see politicians and other newscasters going on the Daily Show to debate John Stewart and to reach his audience.

What I am interested in, is not the merging of entertainment and news into 'infotainment' but the legitimate power that these types of organizations can exercise. For example, the Daily Show's ability to get public opinion in support of the 9/11 Responders Bill. Being from New York, I am  biased in my support for this Bill, but what was surprising was the lack of coverage this Bill was receiving from all main news outlets. When the measure first came up to Congress for voting in 2010, the Bill was defeated by Republican filibustering. Politics and grandstanding came in the way of support for the firefighters, EMT's, and police officers who were once praised as hero's and patriots.

At this point in time, the Daily Show went from being an entertainment show, to instrumental in the fight for the passage of this Bill. John Stewart called out main news organizations for barely covering what most of the nation saw as a huge letdown of the political system for people that needed it most. From August of 2010 until December of 2010 the Daily Show did more segments on the First Responders Bill than any other main news organization, including interviewing First Responders on his show. (Stewart: First Responders) The Daily Show's interest in the First Responder's Bill even became a news item, when news organizations weren't reporting on the Bill itself! (Eventually, in December, Congress passed the Bill)

Now this can all be chalked up to one person's interest and the power that John Stewart holds over his own show, but the fact that an entertainment show was able to frame the dialogue and shape public opinion about a Bill in the United States, does give credence to the theory that E Gao and other forms of media entertainment are powerful and persuasive.

A bit of hope in TANs

In Taking the state out of state-media relations theory: how transnational advocacy networks are changing the press-state dynamic, Sean Aday and Steven Livington describe how non-state actors are exercising a certain level of influence in media. According to them, media are now less dependent on the state's news agenda to cover issues, thanks to transnational advocacy networks (TANs) and epistemic communities (groups that have expertise in specific subjects).

I was glad to read about this shift. When I was working as a journalist back home, I began to notice how sometimes we didn't even pay attention to official communications. It WAS the non-governmental organizations that set the news agenda on controversial issues. Ours was a smaller, non mainstream newspaper, but even the mainstream media followed along sometimes. If Sierra Club's Puerto Rican chapter called for a news conference you would see some of the most important journalists covering the event. SCPR and Casa Pueblo, a grassroots environmental organization, have set the pace for news coverage of a very controversial gas pipeline project.

I think this is good news. Getting out the government's framing of issues (whether they show all their sides or not) is a great development for the general public. More points of view, and from knowledgeable experts instead of politicians, can only be beneficial. However, for journalists, there's a concern that might arise. They should not rely on just reporting what the government says versus what TANs say, but there's a risk that they might become dependent on whatever information those actors give them. It's better than just being dependent on the state, but it's not good journalism.

Our forefathers are rolling in their graves...

I recently came across this article by way of a friend who frequently posts valuable articles on the US’ financial crisis on Facebook, thus he is my trusted source for informative information on business and economics.
Michael Lewis writes on the US’ financial crisis but focuses on the state and local levels of deficit.  He cites Meredith Whitney’s prediction in 2007 of state defaults based on the following data: “U.S. state and local governments faced a collective annual deficit of roughly half a trillion dollars, adding that another trillion-dollar gap existed between what the governments owed retired workers and the money they had on hand to pay them.” Lewis then goes on to present the state that faces these issues on the largest scale: California.  The article examines several local CA governments and the deficits they are facing, particularly in regards to state employee benefits. These local governments grapple with the cost of maintaining union retirement packages by making cuts to existing government employees.  As a result towns, like Vallejo, have half the number of police and firemen on duty and are seeing a mass exodus of those that have the funds to move. The town mayor notes that unions come to the bargaining table ready to fight for benefits without looking at the long-term costs.  The same can be said for those on Wall Street who look for instant profit without a care for long-term consequences to society. Lewis concludes the article with a thought provoking statement: “The richest society the world has ever seen has grown rich by devising better and better ways to give people what they want. The effect on the brain of lots of instant gratification is something like the effect on the right hand of cutting off the left: the more the lizard core [(in this article humans are likened to lizards in terms of instant gratification behavior)] is used the more dominant it becomes. “What we’re doing is minimizing the use of the part of the brain that lizards don’t have,” says Whybrow. “We’ve created physiological dysfunction. We have lost the ability to self-regulate, at all levels of the society. The $5 million you get paid at Goldman Sachs if you do whatever they ask you to do—that is the chocolate cake upgraded [(the chocolate cake symbolizes the human’s inability to say no)].”’

Our forefathers, were men of the Enlightenment, and created our democracy based on the philosophy men have the ability to govern themselves based on reason.   These principles are juxtaposed by current US societies need for instant gratification, where unions and Wall Street alike take what they can get at the time without forethought to the long-term consequences on their own society.  Perhaps we do need a higher entity that can step in and regulate since men are unable to do this for themselves.  Unfortunately, our current government has fallen prey to same issues where lobbyists and favors influence policies.  Here’s hoping that what the coffee house was to the Enlightenment is the tent to the Occupy Wall Street movement.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Washington Post and the Human Centipede Theory of Communication

The Washington Post once again revealed itself as a drooling lapdog for the establishment with its article "U.S. funding tech firms that help mideast governments evade government censors."

The basic premise of the article is that the U.S., more specifically the Broadcasting Board of Governors, is funding software companies that produce programs which allow users to mask their online identity, in an attempt to spread "democracy" in the Middle East.

Really?  Democracy?

The Post, and other media of its kind, have led me to come up with a theory that I call "The Human Centipede Theory of Communication."  For those that haven't seen "The Human Centipede" (a classic work of cinema) it's a about three people that are surgically attached from mouth to ass by a mad scientist.  Sorry if I ruined the plot.

The Human Centipede Theory of Dissemination goes like this.  The Pentagon (along with its related alphabet agencies) is the head of the centipede.  It produces the information that the public consumes, and has control over which direction the creature moves in.

The mainstream media-The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the like-are the second link in the chain.  With their mouth surgically sewn in place, they digest the shit that is passed out of the Pentagon, recycling it and passing it on  through to the public, which is the last link in the chain.

I am still working on finding a journal to publish my theory in.  In the meantime, ask yourselves, "Since when has the U.S. really cared about spreading democracy?"

These regimes in which the U.S. claims to be helping dissidents spread democracy are all client states that are propped up by our country.  Governments like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen are hated by their own people, and if it wasn't for the U.S. providing  their leaders with a steady stream of weapons and military training they most likely would have been toppled by local movements a long time ago. 

The U.S.'s goal in distributing these internet technologies has nothing to do with democracy.  It's simply a cheaper and more effective way to carry out regime change.  If we both support a dictator (Mubarak) and, at the same time, support groups opposed to the dictator (The April 6th movement) we can sit back and relax, content with the fact that no matter which way the geopolitical wind blows we will still remain in control.   It's a chess match where Uncle Sam is managing to play both sides of the board and sit in the audience at the same time. 

It's hard to take papers like the Post seriously when they don't call out  Hilary Clinton for her ventriloquist act.  At the same time that the government is seeking greater measures to clamp down on internet freedom, through the use of bills like the Protect IP Act and attempts to create an "internet kill switch" she also claims that we are the lightning brigade for internet freedom in the Middle East. 

And it's hard not to laugh when you hear copies of speeches like Hilary's printed and re-printed across the globe.  But don't laugh too loudly- the centipede is awake and it's hungry. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Usages of soft power

During the conference The Last Three Feet: New Media, New Approaches and New Challenges for American Public Diplomacy, one of the panelists talked about how while in Iraq, he started giving Facebook a different use than his predecessors. The American Embassy had been writing its posts in English, and so their public mostly consisted of Americans. Being a body that's supposed to interact with the country that it's in, they started posting in Arabic, and about topics that Iraqis might care more about. Another panelist also talked about how they started using Twitter in Bahrain to present news stories from a different perspective, a more "objective" one.

Is this a move into what Ronfeldt and Arquilla call Noopolitik? It might be. In the case of the Bahrain example, they seem to have taken the approach of "whose story wins". However, many of these efforts still go on within a context of war. Thus, soft power is only a complement to hard power, and may be even a way to strengthen it. There's also the matter of how it's being exercised. During the conference, one of the attendants asked if they ever worried about pushing hegemonic perspectives. At first, there was silence, for some reason, nobody wanted to answer. Then, the only person who stepped up to the plate completely shut down theories of hegemony, saying that he wasn't worried at all about it. Being diplomats, particularly American diplomats, I do think that such concerns should be on the table. A lot of times there seems to be an uncontested assumption that the American way is the best way, and that's not necessarily true.

Back to the subject of soft power, I would also like to point out some more recent efforts by a politician from another country, Silvio Berlusconi. Just yesterday, he used his Facebook account to refute rumors about his resignation as prime minister. He's got more than 2,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments. Of course, in a country with a population of around 60 million people, these numbers are very small. But we have to take into consideration that his expressions will probably make their way from person to person and to the media.

Actually, the way Berlusconi has stayed in power for so long is the subject of an entire book. I recently went to a conference where Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini talked a bit about this. A lot of it has to do with the exercise of soft power. He explained how, in Italy, he has been very successful at pleasing the Italian public, while outside his country he's not perceived so favorably. He know Italians, and has been able to successfully sell himself. As shown in the documentary Videocracy, a lot of it has to do with his power over media. He owns a substantial part of television, so he controls a lot of the information that the great majority of Italians get. Is this also a form of noopolitics? I think it's got some of it, but it's certainly far from the type of networked structure that Ronfeldt and Arquilla talked about, where civil society and governments cooperate for global interests.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Public Diplomacy is still a Face to Face Act

There were a lot of interesting topics covered at the Public Diplomacy Council panel on Thursday, but one of the key takeaways I found was the continuing importance of human interactions and exchanges between cultures in light of advancements in communications technologies. With all of the new technologies available across the world that people use to connect, such as the internet and social media sites, public diplomacy is still reliant on human interactions, and the programs that involved exchanges were always the most successful. It seemed to me like ‘The Last Three Feet’ was always accomplished by face to face contact.

The importance of human interactions and exchanges was made across the panel of experts. Ambassador Shannon spoke of the Youth Ambassador program in Brazil that promotes the exchange of 15-17yr olds from Brazil to America. It is one of the most successful programs they have, and turns influential youth into opinion leaders and promoters of productive US/Brazilian relations. In Turkey, the most successful program they ran was the Youth Filmmaker program where Turkish youth learned the art of filmmaking from a Turkish/American SUNY Professor. The youth were then brought to the US to study filmmaking and through the exchange, promote cross-cultural understanding. Last, we saw in Iraq with Aaron Snipe the importance of getting into the field and not staying behind an ‘embassy fortress.’ He would go out without body armor and build relationships with the local people.  As Aaron states, public diplomacy is not only about the content of the message, but how you transport the message. “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” He stressed the importance of being a real person behind the facebook and Twitter posts.” No one wants to speak to an administrator,” he said, so they made sure use their names and bios while using social media to create the bond that face to face contact creates.

Advancements in international communications are creating connections between people and creating avenues for sharing information, but it could be the movement of people in international travel, study abroad, migrant labor, and international business that has more of an effect on international relations than these technologies do.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Does the world yawn at satellite TV's images of suffering?

In Lilie Chouliaraki’s article “The symbolic power of transnational media-managing the visibility of suffering,” the author raises an interesting point.  Does satellite broadcasting, bringing with it the 24/7 ability to view suffering from the furthest reaches of the globe, make us more sympathetic to the horrors taking place in the world?  Or does it lead to compassion fatigue, tugging at our hearts just enough for us to get up and change the channel? 

From taking a quick look around, it seems that the latter view has prevailed.  Most people I know, faced with a relentless onslaught of stories about death and destruction, have admitted to being overwhelmed by the news.  They skim the news just long enough to get the jist of what is happening in the world and hopefully be able to sound intelligent when talking about current events. I think a lot of people look at watching the news as if they’re ripping off a scab-something that’s painful but necessary to get out of the way.

Has it always been this way?  I wasn’t born when this picture came out, but for people who lived through the Vietnam war the picture was a powerful reminder of the brutality of the war and the failure of U.S. policy in the region. 


The picture, and others like it, helped bolster anti-war sentiment and could be considered to be one of many factors that led to the U.S. withdrawal in 1975.  This was before 24/7 satellite television, before cell phone cameras gave most Americans the potential to be become a photographer, and before websites like YouTube allowed us to instantly spread images and video across the globe. 

So why hasn’t a similar photo emerged since, a photo that exposes the viciousness of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia?  Of course there are the Abu Ghraib photos, and pictures of prisoners hooded and shackled at Guantanamo.  But these photos haven’t made the same impact on our collective psyche.  For the most part, judging from corporate news, war today is a clean, sanitized operation that involves the targeting of a series of maps and computer graphics, leaving people completely out of the picture. 

I think images of suffering can be helpful in getting people to sympathize with the events people are experiencing in other parts of the world, but only if they’re put in the proper context.  During Vietnam these images stood out because there weren’t violent video games, 3D horror films, and an endless sludge of media that trivializes murder and dismemberment.  Today images like these

never make it into the corporate press, and if they do they seem so much like a video game that you’ve played back in the day that they really don’t register.  These are the kinds of images that our soldiers trade with each other for fun (, when they’re not busy cutting off the hands of murdered civilians to use as trophies.  When we, as a society, are so numb to violence, when our president jokes about using Predator drones to kill teenage pop stars and his fawning admirers erupt into laughter, it’s hard to see how any more of these images can shake us out of our stupor.  What we really need is a new media, one that puts events into context without showing history as an endless cycle of beheadings and carpet bombings. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Youth Ambassador Program

At yesterday’s Public Diplomacy Forum at George Washington University, I was really impressed by the showcased Youth Ambassador Program, started by the US Mission to Brazil and now implemented in 25 other US embassies.  The program, utilizing few resources, seeks to make an impact on Brazil with a positive view of the United States through a three-week educational exchange. A total of 45 students coming from every Brazilian state are selected to complete one week in Washington and two weeks with a host family in a US state with the idea that they return to Brazil as informal ambassadors of American culture.  

While educational exchanges as part of public diplomacy are nothing new, the US Mission to Brazil has been fairly creative and strategic in utilizing media, both social and broadcasting, to ensure that the 45 students can share their experiences in America to the whole Brazilian nation. The program counts on each student posting statuses about their experiences to Facebook, which the Mission estimates can reach a network of 400-600 people each.  Further, after the students return they appear on the most popular television network for an interview about their time in the US.  The US Embassy has partnered with Brazil’s most popular network and so not only do they offset the cost of commercials but an interview with a Brazilian student on a Brazilian TV show is much more effective in reaching the public, rather than a US diplomat appearing on TV talking about American culture.

I wonder, however, how the US Mission ensures a positive and enriching experience for these students, since their opinion is crucial to the public diplomacy outreach.  How much control does the Mission have over the content delivered by the students and what do they do if the student did not have a happy trip?  Further, is it better to send the student to a school/home stay in a diverse town where they might others who speak who are bilingual, possibly making the student’s immersion easier?  Finally, what are the metrics for a successful public diplomacy outreach in this case?  Is it measured by the student’s feedback (based on their exchange program’s content, itinerary, and experience), the amount of “hits” they reach trough the media, or by the cost saving efforts of sending only 45 students?