(This is the fourth excerpt from my remarks to John Brown’s Georgetown University class.)
Walter Isaacson says the fundamental BBG mission, despite all the changes in the global media marketplace, will remain exactly the same: “It’s fostering freedom through credible journalism. It’s just that simple.”
The new Chairman, speaking recently at the Newseum, acknowledged that U.S. international broadcasting is in a difficult position because by law and by tradition it’s tasked with two separate missions that might conflict: first of all, covering the news with the highest journalistic standards and secondly, being a part of America’s public diplomacy by accurately conveying U.S. policies and values to the world.
“Let me say to you,” said Isaacson, “we will stress the primacy of the first of these missions, our mission of being credible journalists, because it is the best – in fact, it’s the only way to carry out the second mission. You can’t do it unless you’re credible and telling the truth, and in the end, the truth is on our side. Credibility is the key to all that we do.”
So, to go back to where we began these remarks and the original question posed, the biggest challenge to U.S. international broadcasting in the 21st century is the same one that it has faced since it began in 1942 – credibility.
(My thanks to John Brown and his Georgetown students for having me as a guest and for providing an engaging Q and A session.)