Defense Writers Group Moves to GW, Joins New Project for Media and National Security

Veteran Journalist, Former VOA Director David Ensor Will Lead Project at GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs

August 21, 2017

Jason Shevrin: [email protected], 202-994-5631
Brett Zongker: [email protected], 202-994-6466
WASHINGTON (Aug. 21, 2017)—The Defense Writers Group, an association of defense and national security correspondents with 50 member news organizations from around the globe, will move to the George Washington University and become part of the new Project for Media and National Security. Veteran journalist and former Voice of America director David Ensor will lead the project, the university announced Monday.
The Project for Media and National Security, part of GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, will continue to convene dozens of Defense Writers Group events while it creates partnerships with GW research centers including the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. The move to GW strengthens and continues the work of the Defense Writers Group, a D.C. institution that for three decades has brought journalists together with senior American defense and national security officials and experts. The journalists’ forum includes large national and regional newspapers, online outlets, international news wire services, magazines and trade publications.
“By bringing together the experience and depth of the Defense Writers Group with the expertise and interests found across the university, our Project for Media and National Security will create a robust conversation around these critical issues. We believe it is critical to contribute to this important journalism, which is vital for public understanding,” said Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs and a longtime Washington journalist who worked with Mr. Ensor at CNN. “I don’t know anyone who takes journalism more seriously or who understands national security issues more comprehensively than David. He is ideally suited to lead the program and extend its mission to our faculty and students.” 
During the 2017-2018 academic year Mr. Ensor also will be the first Walter R. Roberts fellow in GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. He will join GW on Sept. 1. Mr. Ensor was the director of Voice of America from 2011 through 2015, increasing its audience almost 40 percent during his tenure by adding dozens of television programs, mobile apps and social media programs. In 2010 and 2011, he served as director of communications and public diplomacy for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He brings over 30 years of broadcast news reporting experience to GW. Mr. Ensor was the CNN national security correspondent from 1998 through 2006. Prior to that, he had a distinguished career as a reporter for ABC News and NPR. Prior to joining GW, from 2016 through early 2017, he was the Atlantic Council’s executive vice president for external relations.
“The project will work with journalists and with leaders in the field, to deepen Americans’ understanding of national security issues—always important, but perhaps never more so than now. I am thrilled to join such a respected institution for the study of journalism and communication, and look forward to building new partnerships throughout the university,” Mr. Ensor said.
Harry J. Disch led the writers group for 34 years, first under the Scientists’ Institute for Public Information and then the Fund for Peace. In 2000, Mr. Disch established the Center for Media and Security to run the group’s programming. He is now retiring as the center’s president.
“Moving the Defense Writers Group under the auspices of the George Washington University will begin the next chapter for the organization and ensure the continuation of our mission to best inform the public. We believe that is crucial for an effective democratic process,” Mr. Disch said.
“Harry’s legacy in building this program gives the School of Media and Public Affairs the opportunity to contribute to national security reporting and its future,” Mr. Sesno said.
Support for GW’s project was provided in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.