US information agency urged to soften its tone

Carry a big stick but speak softly - a lot more softly.

That, in effect, is the wisdom being urged upon America's official information agency, the International Communications Agency (ICA), by its national oversight commission.

Since last fall, ICA's new, more overtly political communicating style has drawn considerable public criticism.

In previous years the agency had taken pains to build its credibility in the world's eyes by reporting America's news and official positions in a low-key, ''objective'' style.

But under the Reagan administration, ICA has tried to explain America's more assertive geopolitical goals in more assertive ways. It has also tried to combat Soviet propaganda more vigorously. In the process, warned critics within the agency and without, ICA's information services were themselves starting to sound ''propagandistic,'' especially when it came to the agency's global radio, the Voice of America (VOA).

That concern has apparently gripped the ICA's independent, bipartisan oversight commission. In its new report released July 20, the presidentially appointed Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy urges that VOA eliminate any stridency in its broadcasting that might jeopardize its credibility. It warns against private funding of government programs that articulate US foreign policy , such as ''Let Poland Be Poland,'' the Hollywood-produced, star-studded TV documentary that aired worldwide in February. While the commission supports ICA's new efforts to counter Soviet propaganda, it urges the agency to drop the name ''Project Truth.'' That name, it says, could increase suspicions of propaganda.

An ICA spokesman said the agency would give careful attention to these criticisms.

At the same time, the commission also thinks ICA should be allowed to wield a ''bigger stick,'' stressing that the country's communications and educational exchange activities are just as vital to national security as its diplomatic and military efforts. The commission wants the President and Congress to make ICA's director a statutory adviser to the National Security Council and the President.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK