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Ellen Shearer

Ellen Shearer

William F. Thomas Professor; Co-Director, National Security Journalism Initiative; Executive Editor, Medill Washington

Ellen Shearer is the William F. Thomas Professor, executive editor of Medill Washington, co-director of the Medill National Security Journalism initiative and chair of the Washington and Special Programs Department. She has written and taught extensively in the areas of political journalism, national security journalism and watchdog journalism. She created the popular undergraduate Washington program called Medill on the Hill. Her research has focused on how the news media can better engage citizens in politics and elections as well as what journalists needs to know about national security law.

Shearer is immediate past president of the Washington Press Club Foundation and since 1999 has coordinated judging for the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual awards. She regularly serves as an accreditor for the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University. 

Shearer believes teaching journalism is a responsibility to both the journalists and the audiences they serve. She strives to imbue students with the knowledge they need to report creatively and rigorously for their readers and viewers, using the latest techniques of social media, data analysis and visual presentation to augment crisp writing. She also strives to provide the intellectual depth needed to tackle complicated topics such as national security and politics, and hopes students learn to share with her the passion and fun of creating journalism.

In 2010, she and Lecturer Josh Meyer were editors for the first National Security Journalism Reporting project, Global Warning, in which 10 students investigated the national security implications of climate change. Their stories were published in The Washington Post and the project’s website compilation of the Post articles and other interactive stories was a finalist for an Online News Association award.

Authored Works

Shearer is co-author of the book “Nonvoters: America’s No-Shows” and has written chapters in six other books: “Medill on Media Engagement,” “The Learning Newsroom Handbook,” “The Local News Handbook,” “Engaging the Public: How Government and the Media Can Reinvigorate American Democracy,” “The Changing Reader” and “Communicating Politics.” She is co-editor of “Whistleblowers, Leaks and the Media” and “National Security Law in the News: A Guide for Journalists, Scholars and Policymakers,” both published by the American Bar Association Publishing. She also wrote a curriculum guide for journalism schools, “Correcting Media Mistakes.”