The United States Information Agency (USIA) was established in 1953 “to understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions, and their counterparts abroad.”
The USIA was the largest full-service public relations organization in the world, spending over $2 billion per year to highlight the views of the U.S. while diminishing those of the Soviet Union, through about 150 different countries.
The stated goals of the USIA were:
- To explain and advocate U.S. policies in terms that are credible and meaningful in foreign cultures
- To provide information about the official policies of the United States, and about the people, values and institutions which influence those policies
- To bring the benefits of international engagement to American citizens and institutions by helping them build strong long-term relationships with their counterparts overseas
- To advise the President and U.S. government policy-makers on the ways in which foreign attitudes will have a direct bearing on the effectiveness of U.S. policies.
From 1961-64 Edward R. Murrow, a prominent journalist and broadcaster at CBS, was USIA director. Well-known and respected by the American public, Murrow’s short tenure gave legitimacy to the agency.
The USIA was dissolved in 1999.