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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Fall 2016

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.

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United States
Columbia University in City of New York
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min

EMILY BELL is founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School, and a leading thinker, commentator, and strategist on digital journalism. She is co-editor of Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State, forthcoming from Columbia Journalism Review Books, and co-author of Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present (2012) with C.W. Anderson and Clay Shirky. She serves on the board of the Scott Trust and CJR’s Board of Overseers. LAKSHMI CHAUDHRY is an adviser to the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, where she guides investments in social impact media startups. Previously, she was the co-founder and executive editor of Firstpost.com, a news and opinion website that was one of India’s earliest digital-first outlets. Her writing has appeared in a…

2 min
a note from the editor

We began work on this issue with the belief that the conventional wisdom about journalism is almost certainly wrong. You know the litany: Newspapers are dying; young people are abandoning main-stream news sources for Snapchat and Twitter; talented college students are choosing different professions; journalism, at least as it has been practiced for the last century, is done. The result of all of these facts—some of which are actually true—is deemed to be stagnation and decline, a scary spiral into an unfriendly future. At CJR, that is not the world we see. At CJR, that is not the world we see. For the last six months, we’ve gone on the hunt for dispatches from a different future of journalism, and the results are here, in what we’re calling our Innovation Issue. This…

1 min

How to possibly keep up with the firehose of stories you want to read every day? For a time, I tried going old school, printing out pieces as I stumbled across them, then pulling out a sheaf of paper for reading at home or on the subway. The problem, of course, is that I often came across these pieces when I was nowhere near a printer (and even if I was, let it be said that the printer tends not to be mankind’s most reliable piece of technology). Into this morass came Pocket, an app that lets you easily save entire stories on your phone or desktop. It has changed my reading life. Simply by pressing the Pocket button when I land on something I want to save for later,…

5 min
the drone files

On an overcast day in December, a drone flew over the out-skirts of Dallas. The brief flight had been routine —a test to calibrate equipment—so the amateur pilot wasn’t expecting much when he returned home to review the pictures he had captured. But something in the bottom left-hand corner of one of the photos caught his eye. It looked like a river of blood flowing from the back of a factory into a creek that fed the Trinity River. The operator picked up the phone and reported the sighting to the National Response Center, which tipped off the Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force. A search warrant was issued. A year later, following an investigation kicked off by the photos, a grand jury returned 18 indictments against the Columbia Packing Co., Inc,…

7 min
finding new ways tofollow the story

What are the purposes of innovation in journalism? Since the birth of radio almost a century ago, one has been to deliver news to audiences as they stampede from one new communications medium to another. Radio, television, cable television, the World Wide Web, and smartphones successively disrupted the formats in which journalism producers reached the public. And since it is usually necessary to reach large audiences to pay for the costs of professional journalism, each of these disruptive waves has brought anxiety about—and innovation to solve—the problem of making money. In today’s profession, there are many inspiring stories of entrepreneurial adaptation led by journalists who have broken away from legacy newsrooms (Politico, Recode, Serial) as well as impressive stories of startups that have reached scale, even if their sustainability is as…

10 min
the tech/editorial culture clash

At this year’s annual meeting of the Online News Association in Denver, many of the 2,000 attendees and delegates crowded into the opening keynote address. In the middle of the most charged US election in living memory, at a time when the relevance and role of the news media were under intense scrutiny, the assembled newsroom operatives were not coming to hear a leading editor or garlanded correspondent give insights on the upcoming election or the state of the world. Instead, they listened intently to Fidji Simo, Facebook’s director of product, talk about how the future is all about giving users more of what they want. The intertwining of interests between enormously powerful technology companies and every news organization on the planet has troubled both sides. Mark Zuckerberg has firmly stated…