Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Entertainment education is the intentional placement of educational content in entertainment messages. EE allow mass communication be include entertainment along with persuasion. The idea is to present educational ideals through movie characters, etc. EE was drawn from Bandura’s social cognitive theory. EE seeks to influence the audience’s behavior by providing positive and negative roles. I read many others’ comments this week before I posted my blog comment. I am a pro EE individual. I have experienced the positives of EE within high school classrooms, and I believe that EE is an excellent way to educate subaltern groups. A classmate of mine at Howard told me how she incorporates EE into her curriculum and her students are very receptive to it; their grades improve. Bandura utilized EE when he was exemplifying the inhibitory and disinhibitory effects of the social cognitive theory. However, some of my peers felt that EE is not the best way to educate subaltern groups because the entertainment factor allows room for deception. I never looked at EE in that light. For instance, in the Singhal and Rogers article, how a television shows are used to present health issues and concerns (i.e. Maude and Walter’s vasectomy). Another example was All In The Family. This show’s main character used racial slurs; however, the intent was to elevate viewers’ consciousness about ethnic prejudices. All of the above examples are excellent if the end result of education is received by the audience. However, if one is laughing at the racial jokes of a character, do they understand the true intent?? With this being said, I am forced to re evaluate the advantages of EE.

I agree with many of Singhal’s and Rogers’ implications for future research in their conclusion. The fact that EE will begin to use crafts, art, textiles, etc. as sources was interesting because today that practice seems as if it is a step backwards, considering the technological possibilities of mass media. Overall, EE is an alternative educational tool that is more helpful than harmful for subaltern groups.

Dutta's article discussed how EE is used to promote HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and gender equity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dutta was against EE practices; he offered solutions at the end of his article?? I also saw some blog posts were people felt that the population control section was a little overboard. The one paragraph that I highlighted was the importance of individual responsibility, which is ultimately what must be remembered when incorporating any forms of EE.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

EE: An effective subaltern communication tool?

Dutta's critical review of entertainment education (EE) brought up good points, albeit through a very narrow and extreme viewpoint. Participation and input by subaltern groups is an important component of effective communication development but is also difficult to create and evaluate. Sometimes there are issues EE addresses that subaltern groups don't see as problems as Dutta pointed out with ideas of having large families. However, there are cultural perspectives about women's roles and discrimination against them that rural communities may not see as wrong and in instances such as that, there is a need for outside intervention and communication.

I also didn't quite agree with Dutta that moving from the goal of population control (a measurable goal) to access and inequality (very abstract) was a good recommendation. I think that listening to people and hearing their concerns first hand is extremely important but when creating development programs it is better to judge the effectiveness of a program with measurable goals compared with abstract notions of inequality.

The biggest question I had when reading Dutta's argument was what is the goal of EE in general? Is something based off of entertainment which involves expensive items like a television really a viable technique to reach the poorest of the poor? Perhaps there are other techniques more suitable for working with subaltern groups on health education than through entertainment. Dutta still highlights relevant points about the goal of aid agencies and the importance of participant input but perhaps the notion of EE as an effective tool to impact subaltern groups is misguided.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Updated Approach to Public Diplomacy

Both the Fisher article and the Corman, et al. piece are concerned with updating the antiquated message influence model of public diplomacy. However, this blog post will focus on the merits and downfalls of the pragmatic complexity model. Corman, et al. put forth the pragmatic complexity model, which proposes that "communication is a complex process of interpreting one-another's actions and making attributions about thoughts, motivation, and intentions" (page 9). The authors stress that the system of communication is under neither the sender's nor the receiver's control and that communication failures will be the norm. Although the piece touches briefly on how these two attributes of the pragmatic complexity model should not discourage people or organizations from trying to communicate their messages, I am still not convinced that, under this model, actually participating in public diplomacy or strategic communication would leave the actors better off than if they just didn't participate at all. For instance, Corman, et al. write, "once we let go of the idea of a well-ordered system that is under our control, we can start to think of what is possible in situations of uncertainty" (page 12). Well, this sounds great in theory, but the authors fail to give any concrete examples of what come of those possibilities are. Also, in a society like the US, where seeing an immediate effect is highly valued and expected, the whole premise that this model will only be successful over time will be hard for many to swallow. In the article, it is suggested that the US should try to discuss its problems and invite comparisons, rather than promote the virtues of its democracy. The authors come to the conclusion that "doing this would reproduce Western values of freedom of thought and expression and show that we are not afraid of criticism" (page 13). But to me, this is just another assumption made about how the audience will react to the new role of the US as a facilitator for public dialogue. Corman, et al. do explain how the actual communication process works in their model, but they also are open about the weakness in their model's predicting potential. Although it is obvious that receivers in the message influence model do not always interpret the message in the way that the sender envisions, the pragmatic complexity model relies on so many components in order to determine whether a communicator has succeeded or not and is basically non-falsifiable because one of the basic assumptions is that "failure is the norm" (page 11). So, if a communicator fails to succeed in his or her environment, it does not mean that there is something lacking in the pragmatic complexity model itself, but rather that this outcome is the norm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fisher's Public Diplomacy

The Ali Fisher article on Open Source Diplomacy provided innovative insight into the various types of diplomacy, namely cathedral and bazaar. Fisher presented the objectives of Open Source Diplomacy as creative and comprehensive, geared towards achieving cooperation and conflict resolution.

The factors for success that Fisher outlines, namely creating a genuine partnership among parties and incorporating civil society into decision making, reminds me of the radio show “Talk of the Island.” This program is based in Cyprus and acts as a forum for both Cypriot communities to discuss their grievances and future resolution plans. Like Greenpeace, this organization is successful because it offers civil society the chance to become actively involved in public diplomacy and government actions. This program reflects the idea of Bazaar diplomacy by spreading information and suggestions through technology, and challenging traditional political authority; it provides “an environment for new public diplomacy.” It seems that Bazaar Diplomacy has become the prominent form of diplomacy in our increasingly interconnected world.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My A-Ha Moment!

Thank goodness for Joseph S. Nye, Jr.!!! I understood soft power and hard power thoroughly. In class, I had an idea of what was being referred to, but now I have a "working knowledge" of the terms. I now know that soft power is more than influences/persuading someone to act favorably. It includes actual enticement and attraction toward the favorable side. Hard power in my understanding deals with more overt measures, so to speak. Is psyops an example of hard power??? Then comes public diplomacy, which is utilized by governments in order to attract other countries' publics. For instance, public diplomacy is used to present a nation's cultural values via various broadcasting resources.

Nye then applied the terms. His applications were very relevant and easy for me to understand as well. Experiencing 9/11, the war on terror, and the backlash that followed via media outlets allowed me to look back and see what Nye meant when he stated that America began to rediscover the importance of soft power and the necessary investments. Once various publics, U.S. included, noticed that the "war on terror" was based upon false knowledge regarding weapons of mass destruction, etc. public opinion shifted against the Bush administration and in some case the U.S. This situation negatively effected President Bush and became a blemish of his presidency.

It is important to address the fact that today's society has almost instantaneous access to international events and the commentary that follows. Therefore, it is imperative that public diplomacy and international government practices change with the times. The PD 2.0 article addresses this idea and shows the significance of social networking sites, especially when it comes to organizing mass amounts of people quickly. On a side note, the author also suggested that PD 2.0 gives the U.S. an advantage over the terrorists. The supporting explanation was interesting because interactivity doesn't fit the extremists, but I was not totally convinced by the notion that the new technology will leave the terrorists behind.

Another point that I found interesting was when Nye stated that "preaching at foreigners is not the best way to convert them." This is interestisng becasue if I were a foreigner, I many times would feel that the U.S. is constantly preaching and trying to "force feed" me an idea. It's funny that Nye used the Bush administration as an example....
Overall, I better understand soft power and hard power. I left this as a comment on someone else blog, but I am serious: Does anyone have an example of "smart power?" :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Al-Jazeera as International Actor

Powers and Gilboa, authors of this week’s reading on the public diplomacy of Al-Jazeera, provide a comprehensive overview and understanding of the multi-leveled dynamics of Al-Jazeera, namely its role as a political actor with a specific political agenda. This article’s discussion regarding the internal and external roles of Al-Jazeera is insightful, and I found it interesting when the author’s discussed America’s tendency to ignore the internal role (discussing taboos and criticizing Arab regimes), and to focus on criticizing Arab and Muslim perspectives.

In addition to presenting insightful information, the authors encouraged me to question the meanings and uses of “democracy.” The authors argue that Al-Jazeera uses a democratic platform to project information and motives, most notably as a forum for intellects to speak freely. Although the communications approach is perhaps democratic, many Arab regimes that are represented are not democracies, thus I sensed a conflict of interests regarding the democratic politics of Al-Jazeera.

After reading this article, I did notice a similarity between Al-Jazeera and US media corporations. The authors argue that Al-Jazeera tries to portray itself as objective and non-biased, in order to have a relationship with Western nations. Yet, the media simultaneously aims to appeal to a target audience, which may support biased view points. I don’t find this synopsis of Al-Jazeera’s media intentions much different from American motivations, as our media is undoubtedly infused with biased politics, encouraging viewers to select the media output that is congruent with their beliefs.

This reading offered a broad analysis of Al-Jazeera, covering the most current and contentious issues surrounding the firm, including its reputation as a non state actor able to influence actions and opinions. The author’s encouraged me to watch Al-Jazeera and discover for myself its political agenda and influential politics.

The New Public Diplomacy

The readings for this week all dealt with public diplomacy in varying capacities. The Powers and Gilboa chapter on Al Jazeera and public diplomacy focused on the new recognition of nongovernmental actors in the public diplomacy arena, especially transnational news organizations. Joseph Nye's piece focused on how public diplomacy can most effectively be used in the modern information age with a special focus on American public diplomacy. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs John Glassman's speech outlines the specific American efforts and visions for what he dubs "Public Diplomacy 2.0," and the Monroe Price refers to these new public diplomacy efforts as information foreign policies.

What really engaged me with the Powers and Gilboa article was that they did a really comprehensive analysis of Al Jazeera looking, as the English brand identity for Al Jazeera goes, from "every angle|every side." It was interesting to me to think that Al Jazeera is trying to portray itself as a democratizing force in the region, but it's subsidized and chaired by a member of the Qatari royal family and Qatar's governmental structure is that of an absolute monarchy. But maybe this is part of what Al Jazeera hopes to change?

Another point that I found interesting in this piece was the separation of news issues between external and internal and how even though the U.S. has been known to portray Al Jazeera in a negative light, American views on what should be done to democratize the Middle East are mostly in-line with Al Jazeera's internal news agenda. The same goes for Arab governments being critical of Al Jazeera's internal news agenda and yet favoring how they frame external news issues, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the way that Al Jazeera has cultivated a credible reputation for itself within the Arabic world and beyond makes it very difficult for American or other Western governments to censor it. It looks very hypocritical for a country, which espouses all these democratic values including the freedom of speech, to call for a news organization to be shut down because of its "slant" in reporting the news.

I also wanted to comment on a common theme that has been mentioned in most of the readings for this week and last. The idea that American public diplomacy and/or international news coverage was much more organized and practiced during the Cold War. Many of the articles in the last two weeks have said things like the world is such a more uncertain place, why has US international news coverage or public diplomacy not increased, or at least remained steady, since the Cold War? I think that the conclusion of the Price reading makes a particularly important point. We are all looking back at the Cold War era now thinking, "Wow! Wasn't it so nice to only have to worry about one enemy? Wasn't it so nice to have a clearly defined objective (wiping out communism)?" I think the one thing that this perspective is missing is that at the time, the events of the Cold War seemed anything but certain or clear, and nobody knew if the public diplomacy efforts were good ideas. Price says "Prior to the Gorbachev era..., the United States... had a foreign policy toward the use of information and media that (especially in retrospect) was clearly articulated and implemented" (363). The (especially in retrospect) is very important in this case. I am not trying to say that it is OK that US media barely covers international news or that it is not important for the US to have developed and cohesive policies of public diplomacy. What I do think is that, as the old adage goes, hindsight is 20/20. The past will always seem simpler and clearer than the present or the future because we already know how things played out. However, when the past was the present, I would think that things probably seemed just as uncertain and ill-defined as they are now.