Saturday, December 29, 2007

I've discovered this new thing I like to call "the internet"

NOTE: In Feb. 2008 I attended a talk by Jeffrey Gedmin that gave me more insight into his thinking beyond the quote in this article. This quote left me thinking that he was out of touch, but after listening to his talk I realized that that was not the case, he has a clear understanding of the media situation we are dealing with.

OpinionJournal has an excellent article by Matthew Kaminski on the US government's broadcasting (RFE/RL, Radio Farda, etc). The article is long and worth reading in its entirety, but I'm going to pick out one thing that really had me shaking my head:

Mr. Gedmin [president of RFE/RL] says the radio needs to push further into cell phone texting, podcasts and other new technology to deliver its programming. He hired a new editor for its dowdy Internet site.

With the crackdown on independent voices in Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Russian-language Radio Liberty will have to find new ways to broadcast radio, television and written news and analysis into the country through the Web.

"The Russians are kicking us off the air," Mr. Gedmin says. "Pretty soon we're going to have to go to an Internet strategy. If we get it right, it could be the refuge for liberal thought in Russia."

Got that? 2008 is right around the corner and "Pretty soon we're going to have to go to an Internet strategy." Are you effin kidding me? We should have had an internet strategy 10 years ago. This is a perfect example of why I started thinking in terms of the strategic citizen. We cannot rely on these government bureaucracies to adapt quickly enough to changes in technology. We cannot rely on them to think creatively about strategic communication. Therefore they cannot be relied upon to contribute significantly to the current war of ideas. Oh they'll continue plugging along doing the same kind of news shows they've been doing for the past 50 years. But they will not be innovators, rather like other industrial age media organizations they will stick to their outdated methods until change is forced upon them. Strategic citizens offer the only effective way to keep up with the pace of change.

Fortunately the article also includes a couple of paragraphs about a strategic citizen-type of organization, Layalina Productions:

Layalina is dedicated to bridging the growing divide between the Arab world and the United States by fostering cultural, educational, and professional dialogues through effective television programming.
Layalina Productions, Inc. was inaugurated in March 2002 as a §501(c)(3) non-profit, private sector corporation.

Layalina develops and produces informative and entertaining Arabic-language programming for licensing to satellite and cable television networks throughout the Arab Middle East and North Africa. 

Layalina's programming consists of debate, drama, entertainment and educational shows that forthrightly address the most controversial issues affecting U.S.-Arab relations.

Produced in the United States and throughout the Arab world, our shows largely air in primetime on pan-Arab free-to-air satellite television networks. Layalina's programming thus reaches a target audience of tens of millions of viewers. 

Hollywood's best develop our programming with input from our Program Production Advisory Board. We recruit top talent from the U.S. and the Arab world. Our Academy® and Emmy® award-winning writers, producers, and directors work alongside Arab and American television broadcasters and industry leaders to ensure that our shows are culturally appropriate. 

Layalina's efforts represent the first private sector initiative to establish new lines of communication and dialogue with citizens and key opinion leaders throughout the Arab world. We realize that no single television program or series will immediately alter increasingly hardening attitudes, but America cannot afford to forfeit the terrain in the battle of ideas.


Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Government bureaucrats and functionaries expend most of their limited talent and energy expanding their empires and growing their budget while kicking cans down the road and passing as many bucks as possible to other offices.

In declared wars Civil Service protections and government employee unions are not allowed to carry on business as usual. Deadwood is trimmed and internal talent rises while patriotic external talent volunteers to serve and the organization becomes responsive and effective.

In this war much of the InterAgency is in open revolt aganst the Chief Executive. Volunteer external talent must self mobilize as best they can to contribute what they can from outside.

phil said...

Hey Cannoneer,
I agree. One of our biggest challenges is not getting sucked into trying to unravel the bureaucratic Gordian knot. Bypassing government altogether is the best way forward.