Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian Named SMPA Fellow

Mr. Rezaian was detained in Iran for more than 18 months before he was released in January.

SMPA Terker Distinguished Fellow Jason Rezaian
August 25, 2016

By Kristen Mitchell

The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs has named Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian the 2016-17 Terker Distinguished Fellow. Mr. Rezaian reported on Iran until he was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to prison for crimes related to espionage.

Mr. Rezaian, a U.S.-born Iranian-American, covered two presidential elections, Iran’s nuclear negotiations with other countries and the effects of sanctions brought against the repressive regime. He worked as a Tehran-based freelancer since 2009 before becoming the Washington Post bureau chief in 2012.

The journalist spent 546 days in prison after his home was raided and he and his wife were arrested. Mr. Rezaian was released Jan. 17.

“Jason Rezaian will bring a unique and invaluable perspective to SMPA,” said SMPA Director Frank Sesno. “His courage as a journalist and his commitment to telling the stories of Iran to the wider world will enlighten our students and illustrate the important role journalists play in informing and engaging our citizens.” 

Mr. Rezaian said he plans to share his experiences about working a contentious beat and explore the lessons that can be drawn by covering a place few American readers will ever see up close.

“As a reporter who covered a key international beat and one that also experienced the very real threats faced by contemporary journalists, I hope to take part in an essential dialogue about reporting the news in a complicated world,” Mr. Rezaian said. “Particularly important to me is developing ways we can do our jobs more safely without lessening the power and scope of stories.”

Mr. Rezaian has advice for students looking to start their careers in journalism.

“Focus on the stories of real people,” he said. “Spend time getting to know and understand the subjects of your stories. A big part of what we do, whether we are always conscious of it or not, is relaying the contemporary human experience.”

The SMPA Terker Distinguished Fellows program was established in 2010 by Bruce and Cindy Terker, parents of Jennifer Terker, B.A. ’13. The program brings media, political communication and public affairs professionals to SMPA each academic year.