The NPR & Professional Communities (Part I)


If there’s one thing I took away from my semester in Washington, D.C., it’s this: You can create community wherever you go. The following communities developed during my time in D.C. and each shaped me as a person and a professional. Over the next several posts, I give recognition to the various groups that have impacted me during my time in the District.

First and foremost, I gained professional insight from working at National Public Radio – the employees and my fellow interns demonstrated high caliber journalism and an excellent work ethic. I also got to meet professionals related to public and social media fields.

National Public RadioNPR was the reason I came to D.C. in the first place. I didn’t get to meet everyone in the building (how could I?), but I did enjoy my home on the fifth floor – home for everyone classified as “digital news.” NPR Music was my neighbor just down the hall, so I got to hear the Tiny Desk Concerts, even if I couldn’t get away from my desk. I got to hang with my three Social Media supervisors and learn about their daily work – which included keeping tabs on inappropriate commenters on the Web site and helping other departments set up Facebook accounts. I got to blog for All Tech Considered. I picked up acronyms like MySQL, ATC, WESAT, and i.e. I met Craig Newmark (of Craig’s List) and Madeleine Albright. I celebrated National Hispanic Month by dancing to jazz music on NPR’s rooftop café – and heard Susan Stamberg read “The Night Before Christmas” during the company’s holiday party. The people at NPR are creative, driven and innovative. I will miss that community dearly.

The NPR Interns (Intern Edition) – The group of forty interns were among some of the most diverse young people I’ve met. Interns hailed from both coasts (and even a few from the Midwest). They attended small private, large publics, Big Tens and Ivies. Many had already graduated, and brought with them graduate-level experience, or specialty training like the library science expertise or professional photography skills. Together, we explored D.C. in our projects for the Intern Edition show. For a brief moment in time, we were brought together by our shared affinity for public radio, journalism, and/or D.C. They shared my excitement in meeting Madeleine Albright. I spent many half-awake hours with them (even overnight) working at NPR on our final show. They are one inspirational bunch, and I cannot wait to see the many different directions they are headed.

The NPR.org Community – This group consists of NPR fans (or “non” fans) who post comments on NPR’s Web site. Part of my daily job at the Social Media Desk was review comments that had been flagged as inappropriate. (Like anything in life, you’ve got to follow the rules!) I learned that there are people out there with a spectrum of views. Some accuse NPR for being too liberal, too conservative or [fill in the blank]….the list goes on. But all I know is that NPR is truly dedicated to the public it serves, and it does its best to remain unbiased. I had a great time learning how to manage and moderate an online community – at 200,000+ members and counting!

DC Media Makers / Public Media Camp / Social Justice Camp / Social Media – I am so thankful for the various groups that have continued my education in social media. Twitter has been a huge influence on that, but meeting people in person also helps, too. We are social creatures, after all, and that requires a little face-to-face.

One of my supervisors, Andy Carvin, co-founded a group called DC Media Makers. Bloggers, Vloggers, and Social Media enthusiasts gather once a month after work at NPR headquarters to discuss and share current media projects. Apart from that, Andy also headed up Public Media Camp, which brought together NPR and PBS professionals to discuss how to better engage the public. I got to meet Jill Foster, who co-hosts DC Media Makers, and Jonathan Coffman who handles social media for PBS.

Public Media Camp brought me into contact with Aaron Ginoza and Kelli Shewmaker who are planning Social Justice Camp (SoJuCa for short) – the first “un” conference for DC non-profit leaders. The conference takes places during the January MLK holiday weekend and will also include a day of service. These are folks looking to make a difference in the lives of others, and I look forward to learning about SoJuCa’s impact on D.C.

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About Meg Biallas

Thoughts From A DC Intern Turned DCist. A twenty-something goes beyond traditional tourism to achieve Washingtonian authenticity.
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