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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Jan-Feb-14

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
opening shot

When YouTube began releasing the top trending videos in 61 countries and many US cities, Ethan Zuckerman decided to probe the data with a simple question: What videos do two countries have in common? The result is “What We Watch,” a project by the mit Media Lab and Center for Civic Media, which Zuckerman runs, that shows how videos spread online by monitoring their popularity, country by country. The trajectory also illuminates relationships between nations. For example: A Punjabi pop song becomes simultaneously popular in India, the United States, and Germany, in accordance with labor migration. Or last summer’s smash hit “What Does the Fox Say?” by the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, which trended first in their homeland but only spread once the video hit Canada. One promise of the…

3 min
the right debate

Back in October, Bill Keller of The New York Times and Glenn Greenwald, formerly of The Guardian and now leading a new journalism venture backed by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, engaged in a celebrated and interesting 5,400-word back-and-forth on the Times website about an ancient journalism question: the relative virtues of reportorial “objectivity” (or impartiality, as Keller prefers) versus activist reporters who wear their beliefs on their sleeves. The first term must always be surrounded by quote marks because no one seems to fully believe in it. Still, Keller describes his “impartial” journalism as being potentially as potent as any other form but one that expects reporters “to keep their opinions to themselves.” He sets his kind of journalism apart from “crusading journalists,” including the muckrakers who set the crusading standard a…

8 min

Send lettersletters@cjr.org Culture shock Smart column (“Off the road,” cjr, November/December). As the boss of Lyft told me the other week, it’s not a car culture anymore, it’s a “phone culture.” The implications of that—and of better, more walkable city neighborhoods, expanded light rail, bike paths that link up so you can actually get somewhere on them, hybrid-electric drive automobiles, Zipcar, Uber, Sidecar, Lyft and the other emerging semi-outlaw livery services could make for a really juicy beat just by themselves. Cars used to define their drivers, socio-economically and emotionally. That they were expensive semi-durable goods meant a lot for middle-class American incomes. The same just can’t be said for the Galaxy S or iPhone, made in China by people who cannot dream of owning one. Therein lies the rub, of course: You follow…

13 min

Open Bar The Pen & Pencil Club Philadelphia, PA Year opened 1892 Distinguishing features Club members are especially proud of the Pen & Pencil’s semi-secret location down a Center City back alley. For many years, the club’s small lobby was home to an impressive collection of antique typewriters, some of which remain. Inside the club itself sits the notorious hotdog crockpot, ever-present and filled to the brim with free wieners that float in boiling brine. Signature drink General manager Dan Kenney makes what is perhaps the finest Manhattan in all of Philadelphia. But for most P&P members, a bottle of beer does the trick, especially if it’s a Yuengling. Bold-faced names President William Howard Taft once pulled an all-nighter at the P&P. Broadway legend George M. Cohan was a regular, as were Red Smith and Damon…

9 min
ring of fire

IN THE SPAN OF TWO WEEKS LAST FALL, TWO PRIZEFIGHTERS WENT TO THE hospital after their bouts. Francisco Leal, 26, died of a brain injury after a knockout loss to Raul Hirales on October 19. Magomed Abdusalamov, 32, remains in a medically induced coma as I write, with a blood clot near his brain, after a November 2 fight with Mike Perez. The incidents provoked a flurry of self-flagellating stories in the boxing press, from Mike Gallego’s “Boxing is Still a Goddamned Tragedy” on the Gawker site Uppercutting, to Greg Bishop’s A1 story in The New York Times that explored “why we cover this brutal sport.” A better question might be: Why don’t we cover this brutal sport more? For amid the thousands of words about Leal and Abdusalamov, an issue…

8 min
game change

TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN WAS AN ANNUS HORRIBILIS FOR THE NATIONAL Football League. Its signature event, the Super Bowl, was subjected to an unscheduled 34-minute delay when the lights went out at the Superdome in New Orleans. In the offseason, the usual spree of player arrests for drunk driving or bringing handguns to airports was dwarfed by New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez’ arrest on murder charges. The issue of player safety, meanwhile, loomed ominously, suggesting the kind of existential threat that the sport hasn’t seen since Teddy Roosevelt championed the reforms that led to the creation of the precursor to the NCAA in 1906. The NFL is widely thought to have pressured a television partner, ESPN, to pull out of a documentary it co-produced with Frontline on the subject of…