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Propaganda: The USIA’s New Line (6/98)

The headquarters of the US Information Agency (USIA) are just two blocks from the Mall in Washington, DC. But this government agency, which receives about $1 billion a year from US taxpayers, is no tourist attraction. In fact, a US citizen is better off going abroad to learn how it implements its motto: "telling America’s story to the world."

 A crucial part of the US foreign policy apparatus, USIA likes to call its particular branch of foreign affairs "public diplomacy," a euphemism for propaganda. The encyclopedia definition of the latter term is "instruments of psychological warfare aimed at influencing the actions of human beings in ways that are compatible with the national interest objectives of the purveying state." But USIA prefers the euphemism, because it doesn’t want the US public to think that its government actively engages in psychological warfare activities, and because, among the general public, "propaganda" is a pejorative catch-all for negative and offensive manipulation. read more

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Editorial: Alternative Media Education (12/98)

Years ago I remember a particularly influential professor who required that each student in his class volunteer or perform some community service as part of the course requirement. His explanation was simple: Students are idea-rich but experience-poor.

Now that I am a professor, I’m beginning to question his premise. I find that most of my college students are both idea- and experience-deprived. In fact, if I use a standard text, more often than not an outbreak of MEGO – My-Eyes-Glaze-Over – quickly overtakes the classroom. But one remedy I’ve found to that is the MEOW approach – My-Eyes-Open-Wide. And my most constant companion is alternative media. read more