143. Memorandum From the Director of the U.S. Information Agency (Murrow) to the President’s Press Secretary (Salinger)1


  • President’s “Year-Ender” Briefing

We understand that the President again this year will brief selected correspondents on a background basis, covering events of the past 12 months. Following is a run-down of USIA’s year for the President’s possible use:

In 1962, the U.S. Information Agency made significant contributions in support of U.S. policies in the Cuban crisis, on the U.S. resumption of nuclear testing, the Berlin issue, and the challenge of space.

U.S. policies and actions in the Cuban affair, and the evidence on which they were based, were more thoroughly documented for foreign audiences everywhere in the world than any other issue in peacetime history.

This was accomplished by the heaviest possible use of all media and concentration by our posts abroad on local placement and face-to-face persuasion. It included round-the-clock broadcasting in Spanish to Cuba and Latin America, the first use of commercial U.S. stations to supplement our own transmitters, and the first tactical employment of a USIA air-transportable 50-kilowatt transmitter. We massed 52 transmitters to penetrate Soviet jamming and successfully tell the people facts on Cuba which they got from their own media much later or not at all.

The success of the Cuban campaign was due in large measure to our direct participation in the NSC Executive Committee.

USIA generated wide understanding of and support for our need to resume nuclear testing, and opposition abroad was surprisingly mild when the new tests were announced.

Continuing intense coverage of space events and the world exhibition tour of the Glenn capsule did much to improve our position in the space race.

We continued to develop support for our position on Berlin, one of five priority issues of U.S. foreign policy. The others, which we gave heavy, all-media emphasis throughout the year are a world of free choice vs. a world of coercion, a strong United Nations executive, safeguarded [Page 266] disarmament, and modernization of developing nations as a means of evolution in freedom.

There were these other important developments during the year:

USIA’s basic build-up in Africa and Latin America was nearly completed. In Africa we now have posts in 33 of the 35 independent countries, including a substantial program in Algeria. In Latin America we increased our missions from 35 to 45 major cities, and we now have 29 student affairs officers and nine labor information officers at work there.

The first half of the 4,500-kilowatt Greenville, North Carolina, shortwave transmitter complex went on the air.

USIA films had such a marked increase in quality that popular and Congressional demand caused us to make two of them (on Mrs. Kennedy’s trip to India and Pakistan) available for showing to the American people.

The number of people being taught English by USIA in classrooms reached a quarter of a million. “Let’s Learn English,” a series of 130 television teaching films, has been placed in 33 countries on 55 stations with an audience of 80 million. Audience response is typified in Austria, where 10,000 copies of the textbook were sold out the day after the series began, and in Japan where 60,000 copies of the final examination were distributed.

About 430 U.S. corporations are distributing USIA materials on important foreign policy issues to their 8,000 representatives abroad, almost all of them Americans, on a continuing basis.

For the first time in history, USIA has enjoyed a consistently good domestic press.

Among our remaining problems:

We have not yet succeeded in finally negotiating rights for broadcasting sites in the Eastern or Western Mediterranean, the Philippines, and Thailand—but are hopeful of success.

We have not been able to mount a fully adequate book program in Latin America because of the loss of an anticipated supplemental appropriation, although our book translation and publishing program there is double what it was a year ago.

Edward R. Murrow 2
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA Files: FRC 68 A 4933, Govt. Agencies-White House Oct.-Dec. 1962. No classification marking. Drafted by Anderson and Sorensen on December 18.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.