The best of my show’s first season

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” we take a look at some of the best moments of our first season — with appearances by Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, figure-skating champion Michelle Kwan, Harvard professor Joseph Nye, former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, and other guests.

How money in domestic politics affects U.S. diplomacy

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who coined the term “soft power,” talks about presidential leadership in the conduct of diplomacy, and how the United States can maintain its primacy in world affairs.

Once expelled, gay diplomat thrives in Foreign Service

How has life for gay diplomats changed in recent years? On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” meet Jan Krc, the public affairs counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna who was once expelled from the Foreign Service for being gay.

VOA is ‘not a mouthpiece of the White House,’ director says

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” the director of the Voice of America, David Ensor, talks about VOA as a tool of U.S. public diplomacy, the line between journalism and propaganda, and VOA as a news source for Americans.

Michelle Kwan’s transition from sports to diplomacy

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” Michelle Kwan, a five-time world figure-skating champion, talks about her work as a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department, meeting with athletes and youth in foreign countries, and her new life in Washington.

Top U.S. public diplomacy official seeks to explain ‘return on investment’

Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine talks about the challenges Washington has faced in public diplomacy at home and abroad, and if it’s finally getting it right.

Diplomats in the news for wrong reasons

The silver lining for U.S. diplomats of this week’s WikiLeaks release of secret State Department cables is that there is more buzz about their work than there has been in years. Even though it’s for the wrong reasons, it provides a chance to use the public attention for a serious debate on modern diplomacy.

The general public usually hears about diplomats when there is a spy scandal, or when a diplomat is arrested for selling U.S. entry visas to foreigners — for money or sex. Members of the U.S. Foreign Service often complain that it’s an unknown entity to the very people diplomats represent abroad. My extensive research in the last seven years confirms that concern. Most Americans have no idea what their representatives do every day — and many have no interest in learning about it, either.

U.S. downplays extremism in foreign outreach

The Obama administration is shifting the focus of U.S. public diplomacy efforts to play down the past emphasis on countering violent extremism in order to avoid offending foreign audiences opposed to terrorism.

Judith A. McHale, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said in an interview with The Washington Times that “a very narrow segment” of the world’s population is at risk of turning to extremism, and the policies adopted by the Bush administration should be broadened. “Looking back, there was such a focus on countering violent extremism that everything got swept into the same category or the same bucket,” Ms. McHale said.

State plans new public diplomacy posts

The State Department plans to create seven new senior positions to ensure that a public-diplomacy perspective is always “incorporated” in policy-making around the world, as well as to respond quickly to negative coverage of the United States in foreign media.

In an ambitious strategy that goes beyond any previous efforts to reach out to other countries, the Obama administration “seeks to become woven into the fabric of the daily lives of people” there, its top public-diplomacy official said Wednesday. “We must do a better job of listening, learn how people in other countries and cultures listen to us, understand their desires and aspirations, and provide them with information and services of value to them,” said Judith A. McHale, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.