Get to Know Dana Liebelson, POGO’s Beth Daley Impact Fellow

If you’ve checked out POGO’s blog some time in the last nine months, you’ve probably seen Dana Liebelson’s byline. Dana joined POGO in August 2011 as our Beth Daley Impact Fellow and has covered everything from the Air Force mortuary scandal to World War Z .

A Montana native, Dana has a degree in international affairs from George Washington University. She has written for outlets like Change.org, the International Center for Journalists, and Märkische Allgemeine (a Berlin newspaper), and has a regular column in The Week.

The Watercooler recently caught up with Dana to chat about her time at POGO, international journalism, and indie rock.

POGO Watercooler: What have you learned so far in your time at POGO?

Dana Liebelson: Before I came to POGO, I only focused on international affairs—my understanding of national politics was comparatively dim. Now, I use strange acronyms and am fluent in Hill-ese like the rest of the staff. Specifically, I expanded my knowledge on whistleblower issues, lobbying, national security, and contract oversight exponentially. I learn new stuff every day. POGO is like going back to school! Actually…I think I learn more here than school.

Watercooler: What are your three favorite pieces that you’ve authored? What did you like about working on them?

DL: At POGO my favorite pieces were:

  • Story on Rep. Walter Jones, because it was my first opportunity to interview a Member of Congress.
  • Story on whistleblower Mike Helms, because this was one of the more complex breaking news stories I have ever covered, and it required a lot of in-depth work with Inspector General reports.
  • Coverage of Camp Lejeune water contamination, POGO has been on the front lines of breaking news about the Navy/Marine Corps efforts to cover up the tragedy, and I’ve gotten to do a lot of work with our Director of Public Policy, Angela Canterbury. I really feel like we’re making a difference to the victims of the contamination.

Watercooler: How is journalism in Germany different from journalism in the States?

DL: I worked at a newspaper in Berlin last summer, and soon learned that in Germany, people who are interviewed for the news have the right to review and edit quotes before they are published. I found it weird—it’s as if people can revise history to suit themselves.

Watercooler: Tell the Watercooler about your band!

DL: I play electric violin in the D.C.-based indie rock band Bellflur. We play in the D.C. metro area, down south, and up in New York and Pennsylvania. As fellow POGO musician Bryan Rahija surely knows, it’s a total blast. We wear animal masks at shows. I’m the zebra. I’m also learning drums, but I’m not performing them any time soon in public. Meg White would school me.

Watercooler: Pretend it’s the year 2017 and you’re the editor of POGO’s blog. What’s the blog look like?

DL: The POGO blog is projected into people’s brains while they sleep. Blog writers are cyborgs with perfect grammar and a standardized level of snarkiness. We can instantly transmit POGO material into the minds of Members of Congress, and they have no choice but to champion transparency and good government at congressional hearings….I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

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