THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Hutson is no longer a part of our Service,
but I expect a higher standard from
AFSA. Lively discourse and self-criticism
are certainly welcome, but please do not
to be a platform for deri-
sion and outdated gender stereotypes.
Let’s Talk about Modern
I retired as a Senior Foreign Service
information officer with the U.S. Infor-
mation Agency at the end of 1988. I was
educated as a journalist and earned a
master’s degree in international relations
before joining the Foreign Service in 1963.
I was pleased to see the Speaking Outin the May Journal, “Digital Diplomacy: Will State Ever Take the Plunge?”
I congratulate Amelia Shaw on her
sensitive and thoughtful observations and
conclusions. There is no doubt that, to be
effective, the tools of modern-day public
diplomacy must involve the so-called
social media. Digital and/or electronic
media would be a more accurate term.
We did not have those tools when I
was in the Service, but I see how effec-
tive they can be. I would hope, as Ms.
Shaw suggests, that State will find a way
to make the public diplomacy func-
tion more effective through the use of
modern methods. Our diplomats, in
particular those serving abroad, deserve
all the help they can and should get.
Though the atmosphere at the
moment is likely not conducive, I also
believe that it would be better for PD
to be, once again, made independent
from the State bureaucracy. In any case,
it should have a director who is knowl-
edgeable, if not currently involved with
digital media, and personally aware of
the complicated nature of communicat-
ing with foreign audiences.
Again, I applaud the inspiration Ms.
Shaw has provided with her article. I
hope that it is just a beginning.
Jon W. Stewart
USIA FSO, retired
Amelia Shaw makes some good
points about embassies’ social media
participation in her May Speaking Out.
Too many practitioners are “using
Facebook as a signboard on which to
cut and paste media content created in
At FSI, we teach embassy staffers to
do better in our information tradecraft
and other courses, as well as inmultiple
courses specifically on social media.
Every year, hundreds of FSOs and Locally
Employed staffmembers learn social
media strategies, techniques and analytics.
As I work with PD professionals in
strategic planning workshops and learn
of their products and methods, I think
that most of them do take engagement
seriously. We talk a lot about capturing
audience reaction to the full spectrum
of programs to evaluate results.
When Ms. Shaw gets into her first
public diplomacy assignment in Vien-
tiane, her production and marketing
skills will doubtless improve the Public
Affairs Section’s performance.
However, she will also learn that
posts, tweets and videos are tools, not
the end product of a PAS.
Diplomacy is a different business
Joe B. Johnson
Instructor, Public Diplomacy