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USIA’s Story Told in Re-Issued Video

Public Diplomacy from Public Diplomacy Council on Vimeo.
Allen Hansen

Updated: January 2012

The Public Diplomacy Council (PDC) has re-issued the video Public Diplomacy, first prepared by the USIA Alumni Association in the mid-1990s, with the goal of multiplying the impact of the video’s message on the Internet. In the new version, the PDC has added an updated introduction and commentary.

When the demise of the Agency still was in doubt, two half-hour video programs about USIA and public diplomacy were produced by USIA alumni and aired nationwide, primarily on some 30 public access TV stations. The first part, Telling America’s Story to the World, recounts how public diplomacy was conducted and differentiated between traditional and public diplomacy. The second part, The Road Ahead, tells how USIA was taking advantage of advances in communications technology, with an eye toward the agency’s further evolution.

In both cases, the producers of the re-issued program say that while some of the original content has been overtaken by time and technology, the historical legacy and many of the programmatic elements remain relevant. “It’s fair to call this an annotated time capsule,” the producers note, with the hope that the recent proliferation of academic and other investigations of public diplomacy can profit from these first-hand accounts of how USIA functioned.

The original production was funded by USIAAA, and written and produced by then-alumni association president Robert Chatten. Co-producer was Frank Kemp of Global Village Communications (GVC), a video production company founded by Agency motion picture and TV alumni Ashley Hawken, Kemp, and Earl Johnson.

A new introduction was written by Chatten and added to the videos, where he and former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Linda Jewell present the original videos as historic documentaries. Hawken directed and provided time and technical support to the re-issued programs, which have been combined into a single 62-minute and 30-second DVD.

The PDC now has copies of the DVD for distribution and provides access to the video on its Web site, publicdiplomacycouncil.org. Streaming (instant) access to the video is available below.

Allen Hansen was associate producer of the orginal Public Diplomacy video and former editor of the PublicDiplomacy.org Web site.

Read more: What was U.S. Information Agency?

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