“The goal is to provide media and the public with a greater understanding of both the context and the nuances of the security challenges this nation and its allies face.”
The George Washington University’s Project for Media and National Security works to deepen public understanding of important, often complex national security issues.
The Project convenes conversations with policymakers for journalists, as well as researchers and students, focusing on military, cyber and other national security issues. It brings senior national security leaders face-to-face with journalists in a variety of settings to strengthen news coverage, and therefore, public knowledge.
The goal is to provide media and the public with a greater understanding of both the context and the nuances of the security challenges this nation and its allies face, as well as the character and thinking of individual leaders. In an era of proliferating information sources of varying reliability — with the world’s media challenged by disinformation and “fake news” — the Project seeks to strengthen fact-based journalism by improving the access to leaders for defense and national security reporters
Polls show the American public currently holds many major institutions, including the news media, in low regard. Over time, the Project seeks to change that by helping to deepen the sourcing and credibility of professional journalism.
The conversations may cover areas of general national security interest or highly specialized fields. They may be designed primarily for print and web writers on military and defense issues, or for broadcasters and opinion writers.
Most of the meetings of journalists and officials are held on-the-record, but to allow greater candor on the part of certain key officials, a limited number are held on an off-the-record basis.
In addition to briefings and conversations, as part of GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, the Project plans to organize reporter workshops on new journalistic challenges, such as how best to cover the fast-changing world of cybersecurity. It will also conduct appropriate research.
The Project receives essential support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, founded in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding”. It is further supported and overseen by the GWU School of Media and Public Affairs.
The Project & GW
The Project for Media and National Security both benefits from, and enriches its home in the GW School of Media and Public Affairs.
Students from the GW Trachtenberg School of Public Policy, the GW School of Medicine and the GW Elliott School of Government have been able to observe some DWG sessions with policymakers. For example, Emily Pengelly, a master’s candidate in GW’s Anatomical and Translational Sciences program and a major in the U.S. Army Reserves was invited to attend a Defense Writers event with General Charles D. Luckey, commander of U.S. Army Reserves. Major Pengelly served in the Army from as a physician’s assistant from 2003 – 2015, including a tour in Wiesbaden, Germany.
As a former network television correspondent, director David Ensor has been invited to moderate a number of public events for the School, and to speak to students in journalism classes. A panel moderated by Ensor in October 2017, organized by Professor Sean Aday and funded by the Hewlett Foundation addressed a broad range of cybersecurity issues, with former CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden, Rep Will Hurd (R-Tx), Susan Hennessey of Brookings and the Lawfare blog, and David Sanger of the New York Times.
As a former diplomat and past director of the Voice of America, Ensor is also active in the work of the GW Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and serves as the 2017-18 Walter Roberts Fellow.
A former Moscow correspondent for ABC News, Ensor has participated in a number of meetings of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia, www.ponarseurasia.org), which is a network of over 80 academics, mainly from North America and post-Soviet Eurasia, who advance new policy approaches to research and security in Russia and Eurasia. A program with national reach, PONARS is based at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs.