ZINIO logo
Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Spring 2018

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) encourages and stimulates excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Published by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, CJR examines press performance as well as the forces that affect it. The bimonthly magazine offers a deliberative mix of reporting, analysis, criticism, and commentary.

Read More
United States
Columbia University in City of New York
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian is a senior editor at The Nation and the author of The Cosmopolites, an investigation into the global market for passports. Her reporting and criticism has appeared in The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Nation, the London Review of Books, and many other publications. She has worked as an opinion editor for Al Jazeera America and a business journalist for Reuters. Ana Marie Cox is a political columnist and culture critic whose writing has appeared in The New Republic, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, and Esquire. She hosts With Friends Like These, a podcast from Crooked Media. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Meg Dalton is a Delacorte Fellow at the Columbia Journalism Review and producer of its podcast, The Kicker. Off the clock, she dabbles in audio production for…

8 min
so you wanna be a journalist?

ABOUT THE PHOTOS IN THIS ISSUE You can’t talk about journalism without talking about newsrooms, so we sent noted photographer William Mebane to see the rooms where it happens. All the photography in this issue, unless otherwise noted, comes from the time he spent at Washington City Paper, Mic, USA Today, the New York Daily News, and the New York and Washington, DC, bureaus of HuffPost. This is the first time CJR has turned over an entire issue to a single photographer. We’re thrilled with the results, which capture the messiness and the magic of working in journalism today. To hear more from Mebane, see his essay on page 66. As far back as I can remember, I have known exactly what I wanted my job to be. I worked at my grade…

10 min
occupational hazard

On a rainy midnight in March 2003, I found myself holding a trash bagcontaining my passport, a wad of cash, and a Dell laptop, all quintuple-wrapped in plastic, on the banks of the Tigris river. I was literally stuck in the mud between a huge, impassive Norwegian and a small, scrappy Brit, both named Paul. A few months earlier, I had quit my job as a DC-based opinion columnist for National Journal to freelance in Iraq during a war that I felt I was on the verge of missing entirely. Along with what seemed like every other journalist in the world, the Pauls and I had been holed up in northern Syria, awaiting official permission to cross the border into what was still Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Permission was nowhere in…

8 min
confessions of a serial networker

Before I got sober, I often joked that I became a journalist because it’s one of the few professions where drinking on the job isn’t just allowed, but practically required. Now I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a joke. I was not invited to my first exclusive Washington party. Rather, a reader of my blog who was at the Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association dinner sent me a tip that the event seemed under-attended and no one was checking to see if guests had tickets. These were the Bush years, and the RTCA dinner was a kind of poorer cousin to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. “If you wear something fancy and act like you belong here, you’ll probably get in.” This is good advice for life in general, and it…

8 min
when the math doesn’t work

I landed my first full-time journalism job in early 2016, when I was 26. It was a business reporter gig at the Greenwich Time, a small daily newspaper in southwestern Connecticut. For years, I had tried to break into the industry. With zero experience—I couldn’t afford unpaid internships—my (probably) ill-conceived pitches got me nowhere, and rejection emails flooded my inbox. I eventually convinced an online news site, MediaShift, to take a chance on me, at least on a part-time basis. The pay was meager, the hours minimal. But it was a start. When I got the Greenwich Time offer, I felt an unexpected mix of excitement—and dread. The salary was $35,000. To pay my bills, I had to keep my part-time job as an associate editor with MediaShift, and moonlight as…

6 min
yes, more than ever

One of the things we teach in journalism school is the need to scrutinize your sources’ motives. Why are these people talking to you? What’s in it for them? So let’s start with a little disclosure: I’m a professor and former academic dean at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism (which also publishes this journalism review). My salary and benefits depend, in large part, on ensuring that a steady stream of students continue to enroll and pay tuition here. Could anyone be more biased? Perhaps not. But give me a few minutes, anyway, because these ideas are based more on the 30 years of journalism work I did before Columbia, and the changes I’ve seen in the industry since, than on the nearly 10 years I’ve been on campus. The best place to start is…