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Interview with SIPA MPA candidate, Danielle Schlanger

Danielle Schlanger

Name: Danielle Schlanger
Degree: MPA
Concentration: Urban and Social Policy
Specialization: International media, advocacy, and communication

Danielle is a second-year SIPA student pursuing an MPA degree with a concentration in Urban and Social Policy. During her time at SIPA, Danielle has written for The Morningside Post, the school’s newspaper, and has interned for CNBC in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. This summer, she worked in the Huffington Post’s politics bureau in Washington, D.C. Before enrolling at SIPA, Danielle worked at the New York County District Attorney’s Office as a paralegal in the office’s Public Integrity Unit. She graduated with a degree in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University in 2010.

What did you do before coming to SIPA?

I graduated college in 2010, so I was one of the younger members of the class of 2014. After graduating from college, I worked as a paralegal at the New York County District Attorney’s Office in lower Manhattan. As an undergraduate I thought I wanted to become a prosecutor, but after working at the DA’s office I realized public policy and journalism was a better fit for me.

What attracted you to SIPA?

I was drawn to SIPA for two reasons: the location and the flexibility in the curriculum. As an aspiring journalist, I wanted to be in New York City for graduate school. There is an enormous media market here, and being able to intern while taking classes was important to me. I worked at CNBC during my first semester at SIPA, and I hope to freelance for some of the City’s papers during my second-year. SIPA also allowed me to combine my interest in public policy and journalism pretty seamlessly–the IMAC curriculum is fantastic.

What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate?

Following graduation, I hope to work as a writer for a print/online news outlet covering domestic politics. Working at the Huffington Post this summer reaffirmed this for me–I couldn’t have had a better experience working in their Politics bureau.   My experience at SIPA has really equipped me to better understand some of the most pressing issues facing society today, and how policymakers are able to work with the public to form solutions.


Social Media and Social Movements: Al Jazeera English Comes to Columbia

Current students do a good job of sending along blog content for posting, but I fell a little behind in the past month or so due to all of the updates related to admission decisions.  Erisha Suwal sent along the following post in February. Has it really been that long since the last snow on our campus?  (see the 50 second mark in the intro to the video below).  Thank you Erisha.


Social media especially Youtube, Facebook and twitter and mobile network (SMS) have been instrumental in organizing successful protests for regime change first in Tunisia and then in Egypt so much so that governments in those countries shut down the Internet during the height of the protest.  About 5.3 billion people have mobile subscriptions worldwide. Seventy percent of this population resides in the developing world.  SMS has become a major means of organizing. According to the Foreign Policy, during the June 2009 uprising of the Green Movement in Iran, activists used every possible “technological coordinating tool” to protest the miscount of votes for Mir Hossein Mousavi but were ultimately brought to heel by a violent crackdown. In January 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined how the United States would promote Internet freedom abroad. She emphasized several kinds of freedom, including the freedom to access information (such as the ability to use Wikipedia and Google inside Iran).

Events in Tunisia and Egypt illustrate that censorship to limit information flow and maintain authoritarian control is difficult if not impossible in present time. A fundamental way in which social media has changed the landscape of communication and organizing is by making people the source of information and not the conventional institutions.

However, Internet and social media is a double-edged sword.  While it facilitates freedom of speech it can also be used by authoritarian regimes for surveillance. For example: members of the youth groups and individuals like Wael Ghonim, who set up Facebook pages calling for protests, were arrested and jailed. Similarly, the Chinese government continues to harass bloggers, the famous one being Hu Jia. Security is a major concern Also, In Tunisia, reports that the government had phished user passwords for Facebook and Gmail emerged in December, while in the United States, Facebook has been used by creditors to track down people with outstanding debt.

Taking this cutting edge topic of social media and social movement, a panel titled “Information Wars” was organized by Columbia Journalism School and Al Jazeera English (AJE) on Friday February 11th when everyone was tuned into news channels about the celebrations following Mubarak’s fall. AJE host Marwan Bishara moderated the panel that featured Emily Bell, director of Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism; Carl Bernstein, of Woodward and Bernstein fame; Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman; Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom; and Clay Shirky, author of author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.  It was aired on AJE’s show Empire. Many SIPA students attended the event to get the latest on the impacts of new trends in journalism on international relations and policymaking.  It was a lively discussion that not only analyzed what was going on, but also predicted social media’s new role and influence.

Alumnus Awarded for Exposé on “Silicon Sweatshops”

JonathanAdams-80x94“Silicon Sweatshops,” an investigative series for GlobalPost co-authored by Jonathan Adams (MIA ’03), won a Best in Business Journalism award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. The report exposed working conditions at factories in China that build components for American companies. The series was co-reported by Kathleen McLaughlin. Adams reports on Taiwan for GlobalPost, and has covered China and Taiwan since 2002. Read the full story “Silicon Sweatshops” here.

Arianna Huffington: Facing the Fracture: Media and Economic Understanding

On April 6th Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, visited SIPA to addresses the role of the media in covering the ongoing financial crisis. Huffington opened a conference featuring top journalists, scholars and activists, sponsored by SIPA’s International Media, Advocacy and Communications specialization and the Roosevelt Institute.  For the full video click here.


"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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