The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 33

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JULY-AUGUST 2014
33
in other countries facing ongoing conflict. Thanks in part to
embassy reporting, the Honduras initiative is having even
greater impact.
As a Foreign Service officer moving between field and domes-
tic assignments over the years, I’ve been at both ends of the
reporting pipeline. I’m struck that one of the hidden benefits of
serving in Washington is being on the receiving end, and seeing
how and when field reports from our embassies and diplomatic
posts that get into the right hands can improve policy and opera-
tions. With the right audience, making that noise can shape events
and our work around the world.
Since entering the Foreign Service in 1999 as a public diplomacy of-
ficer, Daniel Fennell has served in Iraq, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico
and Canada. In Iraq, he served as the spokesman and public diplo-
macy chief for a Provincial Reconstruction Team embedded with the
U.S. First Infantry Division in an active combat zone. He is currently
completing an assignment in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization
Operations as the deputy director of an operations team, and will begin
an assignment as the public affairs officer in Accra this summer.
The Value-Added of Networking
By Christopher Markley Nyce
Consulate General Basrah
Being a reporting officer is interesting, rewarding and impor-
tant work. I love the pursuit of knowledge and particularly enjoy
searching out expert contacts on the subject I am responsible for
covering, and learning from them.
In the best of times we are afforded the luxury of writing
think-pieces, which rely on multiple sources and offer depth and
perspective. Spot reports and shorter writing pieces are by far the
more common type of reporting, but even in those we strive to
include the perspectives from people on the ground with whom
we have talked.
Why is all this important? I believe that, unlike journalists,
reporting officers must be perpetually building our network of
contacts. That way, when a crisis arises we are in the best pos-
sible position to draw on our relationships to positively affect
the outcome. This impact is often focused on our best interests
as Americans, but just as often promotes the best interests of the
people of the country in which we are serving.
It is in times of crisis that our network matters most. But that
network is only as good as our reporting efforts have helped to
make it. There may be only a few times in our careers when it all
comes together, but when it does, it makes a huge difference. That
happened to me in Malawi in April 2012, when the sudden death
of President Bingu Wa Mutharika led to a two-day period of uncer-
tainty during which an unconstitutional transition of power—a
coup—almost occurred.
Through Ambassador Jeanine Jackson’s immediate engage-
ment, we were able to encourage the constitutional transition of
power to Vice President Joyce Banda. Our network of reporting
contacts made this engagement flow naturally. In May 2014,
President Banda competed in an election against Bingu Wa
Mutharika’s brother, Peter Mutharika, and lost. Although vote
Young, tech-savvy participants at a January TechCamp in Honduras discuss digital platforms to address crime and instability.
Daniel Friedman/U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa
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