U.S. Still Needs Radio for Public Diplomacy in the Internet Age

U.S. Still Needs Radio for Public Diplomacy in the Internet Age

During last week’s presidential debate on foreign policy, Republican nominee Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to criticize one aspect of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy that has gone largely unnoticed: the shift away from U.S. international radio broadcasting in favor of more high-tech media outlets.

The dangers of the shift were underscored by a new law spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin that will ban radio broadcasting in Russia starting Nov. 10 by companies that are more than 48 percent foreign-owned. Without protest, the American station Radio Liberty -- Radio Svoboda in Russian -- has decided to comply with the law, ending its morning broadcasts after nearly 60 years on the air.

In a Moscow Times article, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Steve Korn tried to justify the move by saying that the station is adapting to new legal realities as well as changing technology and distribution systems. He explained that Radio Liberty will instead rely on digital, Internet and social media in the hopes of reaching “young, urban and educated Russians” who “are at the forefront of change and who will lead Russia in the future.”

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