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Thread: State Depts Digital Outreach Team

  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Feb 2006

    Default State Depts Digital Outreach Team

    I didn't realize this existed. Would be curious to know if they're coordinating with anyone.

    Digital Outreach Team Created to Counter Misinformation about the U.S. in the Blogosphere The Bureau of International Information Programsí Digital Outreach Team, formed last year to engage Arabic language blogs and forums, began in late November to interact with those online forums. The team members clearly identify themselves as employees of the State Department and share information on U.S. policies and address misinformation about the United States. The tenor of views on these blogs and forums is decidedly unfavorable to the United States and often exhibits a virulent strain of elaborate conspiracy theories. Almost all participants on these internet sites have been uniformly receptive to having a conversation with the
    Digital Outreach Team. On average, a few hundred to several thousand people see the teamís postings on each site. Through the Digital Outreach Team, the State Department is actively and directly present in cyberspace.
    Nothing additional at link...just wanted to provide source.


  2. #2
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Ottawa, Canada



    Thanks for posting this! I *really* want to find out more about this program

    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University

  3. #3
    Council Member MountainRunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Los Angeles, CA


    From Public Diplomacy Watch a few weeks ago:
    Texan Jim Hightower has never been one to mince words, and he isn't holding his fire on the news that Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes is now employing a handful of staffers to dialog with Middle Eastern bloggers:
    Hughes' office now has an Arabic blog team! Yes, they're chattering away digitally on Arabic-language blogs to dispel foreign propaganda with … well, with Bush's propaganda. How many are on her office's blog team? "I think it's four or five," says Hughes.
    That's it? Our undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs operation is fighting an entire world of Arabic rage with five bloggers? That's like trying to fight a forest fire with a squirt gun
    Hightower's stupid to criticize the effort - much of the world's political discussion is now online, and the blogosphere often is where the leading edge of the discussion takes place. Hughes is smart to plug America into the discussion.
    But Hightower is right about the small size of the effort - four or five bloggers isn't enough. The State Department needs a much larger effort to speak to the world via the new online and interactive media.
    Four of five people working to get America's message out in a global ocean of millions of blogs and bloggers is like a drip of water dropped into the Pacific. Closer to home, it's like focusing the State Department thinking tiny "cultural exchange" programs involving a handful of foreigners at a time is a serious public diplomacy effort at a time when America's share of the global international travel business has declined so much that millions fewer people from around the world are choosing to travel to the United States.
    Reaction: MountainRunner says Hughes' blogger project "is apparently a low priority project as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes doesn't even know how many of her people are assigned to the task." MountainRunner also has some good suggestions for Hughes' bloggers.
    Some of my suggestions for Hughes' bloggers to save you the click:

    Public Diplomacy Watch points out an attempt to engage foreign audiences through blogging. This is apparently a low priority project as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes doesn't even know how many of her people are assigned to the task.
    How many are on her office's blog team? "I think it's four or five," says Hughes.
    Just the other day another incident occurred that begs a major information campaign based on truth: using children as decoys. Such a wedge issue, similar to the Zarqawari "blooper tape" and Zarqawari's attack on the Jordanian wedding, can have a real effect. Even if not immediate, it can have a cumulative impact. Arrangements like the release of Sheik Ahmed Shibani (and here) should be integrated into the communication plan as we work against the unresponsiveness of the lingering effects of negative PR like Abu Ghraib.
    Of course, there's a limit to how far Hughes can go because of limits of language acquisition that just seems to be new and unique. Check out our efforts in the past (but don't tell if not asked).
    Enough years have passed, let's get our strategic communications and public diplomacy house in order already. This doesn't mean a slick Charlotte Beers / Madison Avenue approach, but a smart grass roots effort based on facts. In the case of the children as decoys, find the parents, link in the soccer balls to parents via IP programs, and highlight the change of tactics on both sides. We're finally doing real engagement as clear and hold actually means hold and at least one segment of the opposition has degenerated further.
    See Noah's post highlighting why we need a better integration with communication specialists.
    I know the guy that is the misinformation guy for State, as in the only guy that counters misinformation for state... on a website that if you're in the US must Google to find because of concerns over Smith-Mundt. I'll ask him if he's got more details, like if he has more people working for him.
    Last edited by MountainRunner; 04-17-2007 at 03:48 AM. Reason: clean-up


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