Vice Dean of USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Phil Seib weclomes the crowd and introduces Richard Stengel, under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs on October 15, 2013.
Photo Credit: Brett Van Ort

Seib: US needs to take a stance on press freedom

Journalism and Public Diplomacy Professor Philip Seib wrote a Huffington Post column earlier this week on why the United States should increase efforts to protect the rights of journalists worldwide.

"In many places throughout the world, freedom of the press is under siege," he wrote. "This is nothing new, but the breadth and virulence of current efforts to silence journalists is striking. Those in countries where independent reporting of news has been blocked might well ask, 'Where is the United States?'" Seib called for a three-tiered public diplomacy strategy in response to the current media suppression in Egypt:

  • President Obama should set a tone with a major speech about press freedom
  • the United States should withhold aid to the Egyptian government until press freedom begins to be rebuilt
  • the State Department should promote and expand its existing programs that support international journalists

"This is one of those instances in which the United States holds the moral high ground but doesn't seem to know how to take advantage of it," Seib wrote. "Reaching global audiences has never been easier, given tools ranging from satellite television to social media, and yet the United States continues to lag in embracing assertive public diplomacy strategies that could engage those large audiences. The White House and State Department need to rev up the engine of public diplomacy and make it more central to U.S. foreign policy. Forcefully defending press freedom would be a good way to start. The world will take note." Read the full piece here. Read more HuffPo pieces by Seib here. Check out Seib's posts on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog.