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Thom Shanker a John Marshall 1974 Graduate

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2021) - The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs is pleased to announce that Thom Shanker, a longtime Pentagon correspondent and editor for The New York Times, has been selected as the next director of the Project for Media and National Security. Shanker will start as the new director June 7, 2021.

"We are excited to welcome Thom Shanker as the new director of the Project for Media and National Security. His experience, perspective and expertise in the coverage of national security are so important to continuing the work with journalists, public officials and students,” Silvio Waisbord, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, said.

Shanker’s nearly quarter-century career with The Times included 13 years covering the Department of Defense, overseas combat operations, and national security policymaking, including numerous military embeds in Afghanistan and Iraq. He chronicled a historic series of defense secretaries, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, Robert M. Gates, Leon E. Panetta and Chuck Hagel. Most recently, he served as editor for coverage of the military, diplomacy and veterans affairs in The Times’ Washington bureau. He is co-author of “Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda,” which made The Times’ best seller list. Prior to joining The Times, Shanker spent five years as Moscow correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, spanning the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He then spent two years covering the ethnic wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia.

“I am greatly honored by the invitation to become director of the Project for Media and National Security,” Shanker said. “I look forward to continuing the important conversation it convenes for reporters and policymakers, and I welcome the challenge to expand into emerging areas of the national security debate.”

Shanker will replace the Project for Media and National Security’s founding director, David Ensor. Ensor previously served as director of the Voice of America and as a U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan. His 32-year journalism career included covering national security for CNN, reporting for ABC News from around the world and from the White House for NPR.

The GW Project for Media and National Security (PMNS), housed within the School of Media and Public Affairs, works to deepen public understanding of national security. It convenes conversations between policymakers and journalists, as well as with researchers and students, focusing on military, cyber and other national security issues. PMNS oversees the Defense Writers Group, a 40-year Washington institution bringing reporters and national security officials together for in-depth conversations. In an era of proliferating information sources of varying reliability — with the world’s media challenged by disinformation and “fake news” — PMNS seeks to strengthen fact-based journalism by improving access for national security reporters to senior government and industry officials. In addition, it has an important mission of educating future journalists and communicators in the national security field.

Office of Media Relations

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006 Phone: 202-994-6460

Media Contact:

Kara Tershel:, 202-994-0616

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