the medium is the message

On Monday I started a four-week tradecraft course focused on the information and media aspect of my job. One thing we’ve discussed so far is the importance of understanding the unique histories, personalities and agendas of the various foreign media outlets with which we’ll be interacting. This knowledge will allow us to adapt our message appropriately.

As a tounge-in-cheek exercise to introduce us to this topic, we matched a number of U.S. newspapers with their reputations:

  • This paper is read by people who run the country (Wall Street Journal)
  • This paper is read by people who think they run the country (New York Times)
  • This paper is read by people who think they ought to run the country (Washington Post)
  • This paper is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t understand the Washington Post (USA Today)
  • This paper is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if only they had the time (LA Times)
  • This paper is read by people whose grandparents used to run the country (Boston Globe)
  • This paper is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country (New York Daily News)
  • This paper is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as they do something scandalous (New York Post)
  • This paper is read by people who don’t care whether there is a country, or that anyone is running it (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • This paper is read by people who are running other countries (Miami Herald)
  • This paper is read by people who wish people dead for 100 years were running the country (Omaha World-Herald)

These are just generalizations, of course, but there’s some truth in there, right? 🙂

We also had some time to research the media climate of our country of assignment. I was surprised to learn that Benin’s newspapers only have circulations of several thousand, while radio programs are heard by millions of people. So, radio will probably be a major vehicle for my public diplomacy efforts. Text messages too. Did you know that more people in the world have access to a cell phone than a clean toilet?

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4 Responses to the medium is the message

  1. Elaine says:

    That would include the people in my house!

  2. My husband and I enjoyed the newspapers bit. Very funny. And true.

  3. Pingback: Repost: Travel Orders « Ren's Micro Diplomacy

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