Senate confirms first blogger to Broadcasting Board of Governors
The US Senate has confirmed three new members of the moribund Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), including the first blogger to serve on the board – a great new development for a number of reasons.
Matt Armstrong, a former adjunct professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California, distinguished him in the public diplomacy field with his popular blog, MountainRunner.us. (He hasn’t added to the blog in about a year, but it’s a great resource.)
He also served as executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a sleepy but potentially important entity in the war of ideas.
The BBG runs most civilian US government broadcasting around the world to influence public attitudes abroad. The services include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, Alhurra and Radio Sawa in Arabic, and Radio Farda in Persian.
I’ve known Matt for years and have been a big fan of his work. He’s open-minded, very approachable, and not partisan in his approach to the nation’s global image and messaging problems. Unlike a lot of appointees to the BBG, international broadcasting to other countries as a public diplomacy tool is one of Matt’s main areas of expertise, so he’s unlikely to be an ornament on this board.
This is about the first time I’ve ever praised an Obama appointee in writing, so I hope it doesn’t hurt Matt’s effectiveness.
The other two new BBG members are NBC Universal International President Jeffrey Shell, and retired Ambassador Ryan Crocker. I don’t know Shell, but Crocker is a superb and courageous career diplomat.