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CMAP Student Spotlight: Jon Elbaz, 2017–18 Cohort

February 12, 2018

*Jon Elbaz grew up in Maryland, studied journalism and worked in the news industry for a few years before enrolling in Emerson’s CMAP program. He hopes to explore how media outlets can build stronger relationships with audiences and how news organizations can become more transparent, trustworthy and sustainable. He’s also interested in the therapeutic possibilities of civic participation and civic action grounded in spirituality. Jon’s dream is to one day manage a community space for civic discourse.*

What was the path that brought you to CMAP? While I studied journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, I was always interested in broader conversations about media literacy and media impact. I was lucky enough to attend the Salzburg Academy for Media & Global Change in the summer after my junior year, which opened my eyes to the possibilities of connecting civic engagement with digital media. It’s also where I met Paul Mihailidis. After graduation, I worked in the news industry as a reporter and web producer for a few years, but always thirsted to channel my media skills into more advocacy and civic work. When I read about about the newly launched CMAP program on Paul’s Facebook page, I knew that Emerson and the Engagement Lab should be my next destination.

*What does civic media mean to you? *To me, civic media is about leveraging media tools both timeless and timely to catalyze civic engagement and spur people to take action in their communities.

Photo credit: Anna Ladd

> > To me, civic media is about leveraging media tools both timeless and timely to catalyze civic engagement and spur people to take action in their communities.

*What is one change you would like to see in the world? *I’m stealing this answer from my wise friend Zach — but I would love if everyone in the world had constant, free access to a therapist.

*What would you want the civic media community to know about you? *I’m 6'2'’, I like Mediterranean food, and I enjoy long walks on the Common. What about you, civic media community?

Photo credit: Anna Ladd

*How do you define engagement? What does being engaged mean to you? *Just like an engagement for marriage, I believe that civic or political engagement involves a persistent and spirited attachment to the people around you and to the issues that affect them.

Are there any specific projects that you’ve done in the past that intersect with your studies now? I worked on an oral history called “Baltimore’s Forgotten Champions.” It’s a crazy story about how a Canadian Football League expansion team sprang up in Baltimore, won the CFL title and relocated to Montreal without the city really noticing. It took three months for me and four other colleagues to report and put the story together, but it became an amazing multimedia package and I’m very proud of the work we did.

*What are some of your favorite pieces of media? *I love Paul Thomas Anderson, Kanye West, The NY Times Sunday Crossword, The Leftovers TV series, Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything Click Here, My Chemical Romance, Bowfinger starring Eddie Murphy & Eddie Murphy, etc.

*What’s one fun fact most people don’t know about you? *Meet me in person to find out!

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