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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Fall 2017

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

1 min
editor note

Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism. It is the most respected voice on press criticism, and it shapes the ideas that make media leaders and journalists smarter about their work. Through its fast-turn analysis and deep reporting, CJR is an essential venue not just for journalists, but also for the thousands of professionals in communications, technology, academia, and other fields reliant on solid media industry knowledge. DEAN, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL Steve Coll BOARD OF OVERSEERS Chairman: Stephen Adler Emily Bell, James Bennet, Rebecca Blumenstein, Nathan S. Collier, Sheila Coronel, Richard Elden, Howard W. French, Wade Greene, Laura Handman, Mark Hoffman, Joan Konner, Isaac Lee, Steven Lipin, Catie Marron, Terry McDonell, Matt Murray, Victor Navasky, Craig Newmark, Michael Oreskes, Alice Rogoff, Randall Rothenberg, Michael…

3 min

JILL ABRAMSON is a former executive editor of The New York Times. She also writes a political column for The Guardian and is finishing a book on the transformation of the news industry. She is a senior lecturer in the English department of Harvard University. NINA BERMAN is a photographer, author, and associate professor at the Columbia Journalism School, where she directs the photojournalism program. Her work can be seen in Subjective Objective: A Century of Social Photography at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LEE C. BOLLINGER became Columbia University’s 19th president in 2002. He is Columbia’s first Seth Low Professor of the University, a member of the Columbia Law School faculty, and one of the country’s foremost First Amendment scholars. MCKAY COPPINS is a staff writer at The…

3 min
a note from the editor

While Trump delivers his threats in ways that can appear trivial and petty . . . the fallout is deeply consequential. Months ago, when we started planning this issue and framing our subject as “The Year That Changed Journalism,” we thought we might be accused of hyperbole. Now it’s understatement that has us worried. The world of journalism is a fundamentally different place as a result of the election of Donald J. Trump. In this issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, we’ve set out to catalogue what’s changed—and to chart where we’ll go from here. The challenges are immense. As Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger outlines in his sobering opening essay (pg. 10), we are living under an American president who doesn’t seem to accept the central role of a free press…

10 min
can the first amendment save us?

“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition.” That was written nearly a century ago, in 1919, in a dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The case, Abrams v. United States, involved five Russian immigrants who had been prosecuted for their distribution of leaflets in New York City praising the Russian Revolution, criticizing President Woodrow Wilson’s opposition to communism, and urging workers to launch a general strike in protest. In an era of fevered intolerance of foreigners and immigrants (not unlike our own) and of fanatical wartime patriotism determined to crush any…

8 min
when all the news that fits is trump

Since the election, The New York Times has toughened everything about its coverage of Donald Trump, from the choice of words it uses to describe what he says to the number of reporters assigned to cover and investigate him. Like everyone else, the Times underestimated his chances of being elected. Although it published impressive investigations of his taxes, treatment of women, and real-estate deals, it was only after his surprise victory that the dimensions of Russia’s interference in the election and ties to Trump were examined and revealed. In recent months, the Times has been in a running one-upmanship battle with The Washington Post, a thrilling journalistic display that has reinforced the importance of the few national news organizations left that still have the muscle to do this kind of reporting.…

4 min
‘put the camera down’

FRIEND OR FOE? A Trump supporter approaches a reporter in Kissimmee, Florida, in August 2016. The most dangerous place to be a journalist in America is at a protest. That’s a key early takeaway from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a nonpartisan website launched in August that documents press freedom incidents around the country. As of mid-September, the database had logged 20 arrests and 21 physical attacks on journalists this year, most of them at public demonstrations. The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Freedom of the Press Foundation developed the tracker with support from more than two dozen other journalism organizations, including CJR. The tracker collects data points from news stories and tips, and it’s free to use. It’s also needed now more than ever. With his near-daily denouncements of the press, the president…