Columbia Journalism Review Fall 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.

United States
Columbia University in City of New York
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min

Gabriel Arana is a contributing editor at The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The New York Times, HuffPost, Salon, The Nation, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, and The Daily Beast. He lives in New York City. Gustavo Arellano is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times opinion section and the author of 2012’s Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. Alexandra Bell is a multidisciplinary artist who has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Pomona College Museum of Art, and Jeffrey Deitch Gallery. She is a recipient of the 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award and a 2018 Soros Equality Fellowship. She holds an MS in journalism from Columbia University. Rebecca Carroll is the editor of special projects at WNYC, a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times, and a columnist…

7 min
missing the story

Five years ago, I came across an article in The New York Times about a spate of robberies in the Bronx. It was the kind of story that has been a staple in the metro sections of newspapers since there have been metro sections in newspapers, focusing on the reaction of people living in the neighborhood where robberies took place. But there was a notable wrinkle: Confronted by armed antagonists, the article sighed, many people refused to surrender their belongings, even when they had only a few dollars on them. The article tsk-tsked at community members for tempting fate. A criminologist offered a suggestion that it was “nuts for the victim to refuse.” A few dollars, readers were told, are not worth one’s life. The article stuck with me in part…

4 min
view from a paper route

Seventy-two years ago, I worked the paper route on the west side of Montgomery, Alabama, delivering the Alabama Journal to my neighbors, who were mostly African-American. One afternoon, in 1946, I met, and would eventually befriend, the son of my white subscribers. We were both 13. This summer, a trip back to Montgomery, and to my old route, got me thinking not only about that boy, but also about what has, or hasn’t, changed in Montgomery, and in America, since 1946. And it’s reminded me that it was that paper route that introduced me to journalism, a profession that I would love for the next six decades. I didn’t realize it then, but the daily trek covered about two miles. As a teenager, it was a snap. Also, in those days, everybody…

7 min
the many voices of journalism

Growing up, I was in awe of a painting called Abaporu, or, “Man who eats human flesh.” A distorted human figure sits next to a cactus under a bright yellow sun. Abaporu, painted 90 years ago by Tarsila do Amaral, an artist in Brazil, helped create a cultural movement: anthropophagy, driven by the idea of eating up foreign influences and spitting out something new. Abaporu transformed Brazilian culture, from visual arts to Tropicalia music, and may be the most recognizable piece of art in Brazil. Few people in the United States were familiar with it until recently, when an exhibition of Amaral’s work was shown for the first time in North America, at the Art Institute of Chicago, then the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I thought it was a…

7 min
diversity as a second job

As the sun set in Charlottesville, Virginia, two days after a white supremacist rammed his car into a group of demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman, I ducked out of an event hosted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I ran past a statue of Robert E. Lee that, the previous day, had sparked protests and counter-protests, and headed to my car. There was plenty to do on the two-and-a-half-hour drive across the hills to my home, in Washington, DC; I had to lay down a few voice notes with my observations about the people I’d met and the fears they’d expressed. I had to check in with my editors at The Atlantic. I had to call my wife and infant son to let them…

9 min
where food writing leads

In the winter of 1994, Dorothy Kalins decided that she was so bored with food magazines that she would start her own. “They were just totally deracinated,” Kalins recalls of the “Big Three”—Conde Nast’s sibling publications, Bon Appétit and Gourmet, and Food & Wine. “They were removed from the roots of the food.” Kalins, a former editor-in-chief of Metropolitan Home, found the magazines’ collective sensibility service-oriented to a fault, pushing “dopey” stories with spreads about “six ways to make pork chops and low-fat cassoulet.” Recipes were the grist; occasional sojourns to faraway lands were mostly in Europe, if writers dared to leave the country at all. Kalins had a vision of a better way. “We would go to the ends of the Earth and shoot the food coming out of the…