Media is closely tied with, and relates to, all aspects of society. When the opportunity to explore media’s profound impact on society presented itself to CAMD student Adam Tismaneanu, a Media and Screen Studies/Journalism combined major, he could not pass it up. This semester, Adam is working at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, DC, at a co-op he developed from an exisiting NED internship.
We recently caught up with Adam to hear about all the exciting things he’s been involved with, as well as the ways in which his co-op will allow him to expand his understanding of media and its implications and innovations.
Please tell us a little bit about the National Endowment for Democracy and what the organization does.
The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is a nonprofit foundation that receives government funding and has had strong bi-partisan support since its inception in the mid-80s. The goal, more or less, is to promote and strengthen the pillars of democracy around the world, such as human rights and a free press, through making more than 1,200 grants in over 90 countries as well as conducting and publishing research.
How did you come across your position?
I had been looking around and applying to internships outside of the co-op database, as well as within, and particularly ones in DC. My father, who’s a political science professor at the University of Maryland, had done a fellowship with NED about a decade ago. Even though he mentioned it last year, I hadn’t really thought about applying since it was my first time applying for co-ops. When I looked at some of NED’s opportunities this fall though, I thought it could be a really nice fit and experience for me, so I worked on getting it approved as a co-op.
What is it like living and working in Washington, DC? Are there any fun things you’ve been able to do outside of your co-op?
I’m a Washington, DC native, born and raised, but the last couple years I’ve had barely any time to be home. So that was part of my thinking when applying because I love it here and missed it (plus the winters are nothing compared to Boston). I’m a huge NBA fan and finally my hometown team is actually pretty good this year so I try to get out to games whenever I can since I work about five minutes away from the Verizon Center. Ever since I was little I’ve always loved the Wizards, so it’s been awesome, even though ticket prices are going up now. I’ve done most of the touristy stuff growing up but one thing I never did was visit the Library of Congress. Luckily, NED has set up a tour in a couple weeks so I’m really looking forward to that.
What type of work does your co-op position involve day to day? Any highlights so far or projects you’re particularly proud of?
What I really like about working here is the array of different things I get do every day, such as helping put together, edit and format the reports we publish and working the events that we host. One constant is a couple newsletters I put together consisting of articles from around the world on Tuesdays and Fridays which helps me learn more and more about what is going on outside our borders. I’ve gotten to interview very interesting people for reports as well as blogposts. Right now, I’m helping with the very early stages of doing initial research on a report that we’re hoping to commission in the future about the challenges women face in media and what action can be taken around the world. I also have some blogposts that will be coming out over the next few months. I am very proud of a blog I wrote about the role Romania’s independent media played in sparking massive anti-corruption protests. It’s particularly close to heart because my father is from Romania and I spent most summers there growing up, so it was really cool to be able to write about that for my job.
Here’s a link to the blogpost: http://www.cima.ned.org/blog/romanias-independent-media-woke-readers/
How does your co-op relate to your Journalism/Media and Screen Studies combined major?
NED is made up of different teams within the foundation. I am part of the Center for International Media Assistance, or CIMA. Everything I work on is related to journalism and media development around the world, as the name itself suggests. I’ve gotten to talk to and work with all kinds of people who are involved in journalism as well as media freedom and analysis. I think this has really opened my eyes even more to many of the challenges people around the world face in different media as well as political landscapes.
How did your classes at Northeastern prepare you for your work at the National Endowment?
I think about this pretty much every day. What quickly comes to mind is a couple weeks ago when we hosted an event about the “Great Firewall of China” and the country’s censorship practices. Among the three esteemed panelists was Rebecca MacKinnon who’s the Director of the Ranking Digital Rights Project at New America. I’ve had her work as assigned reading in a couple of my Media & Screen Studies courses so it’s very exciting to see people we’ve talked about in the classroom come and speak at where I co-op.
Here’s a link to the event: http://www.cima.ned.org/event/beyond-great-firewall/
Adam at a recent NED Event
What has been the biggest learning experience from your co-op so far?
I’d say just the importance of not being hesitant to reach out to people and picking their brains. At NED, you really never know who is going to be around the office. Many of the people on staff are from all over the world as well and have extremely interesting and impressive stories. I’m very grateful to be surrounded by such intelligent people every day.
How do you think your co-op experience can be applied to your Northeastern education? After you graduate?
Mainly, I’d say this co-op experience showed me how many different opportunities there are to be involved in media. For example, there are giant outlets that everyone knows about; but there are also small, lesser known newspapers websites from different places or nonprofits like NED who are working to create more media opportunities and promote a press freedom. I’ve really enjoyed working for a nonprofit and I’m extremely proud of the work CIMA does to help people involved in journalism and media around the world.