Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with James Moceri
I was talking earlier about people I sent to the States. I sent another journalist, a young man named Lepri, to the United States on a Leader grant. Ten years later he was made the head of ANSA, the Italian news agency.
Well, this happened, you know, with many of the people I recommended for either Fulbright grants or Leader grants; people who in the years after I left Italy carved out a position of prominence for themselves in Italian affairs, even on the national level. Obviously, it meant that I felt very deeply about the importance of this kind of grantee-type program and a very strong sense of responsibility for selecting people who had the kind of substance that could lead to important positions in Italian life.
1955: Moceri Becomes Acting PAO for Italy For About Three Months
In 1955, I got a call from Ned Nordness in Rome, by then our Public Affairs Officer in Rome, to come down to Rome and act in his place. He had suffered an injury. So I went down to Rome and became acting country public affairs officer for about three months.
Q: And what date was this?
MOCERI: This was the summer of '55. Ned was hospitalized and then decided to take some leave until he had fully recovered. So for three months I was in charge of the Italian program—a difficult time, faced as I was with the problem of submitting the annual report and a country budget, to mention only two major items. I'd never dealt with a country budget before. Moreover, there was no deputy country PAO and I also had to assume the responsibilities of chief information officer—yet another vacancy at the top of the country program.
I think the thing that astonished me most in Rome was lack of coordination among the various officers of USIS Rome. They had country responsibilities and also local responsibilities. And messages would go out with little or no coordination. So I set up, for myself, a procedure for reviewing absolutely all outgoing correspondence before it left our offices. And I'd send notes to people, saying in effect, “Look, why didn't you check with your colleague across the hall?”
I was appalled. I couldn't understand this sort of thing. The press section never talked to the people in the cultural section, and vice versa. Or one officer to another officer.
Q: Did you have any—as director—staff meetings?