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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Jul-Aug-13

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

On May 30, the entire photo staff of the Chicago Sun-Times—28 full-time photographers, including Pulitzer Prize-winner John H. White—were summoned to the Steamboat Room of the Chicago Holiday Inn, where they learned they were all being laid off. Going forward, the newspaper would rely on freelancers and reporters armed with smartphones to shoot photos and video. In a memo sent later that same day, managing editor Craig Newman informed the editorial staff that mandatory training sessions for iPhone photography basics would soon begin. Whatever Sun-Times investors save from these cuts, asking already multitasking reporters (who likely are more accustomed to taking smartphone pictures of their croissants than of dramatic crime scenes) to replace dedicated photo professionals is sure to be a loss for the paper’s journalism. Cheap and fast is…

3 min
teach a man to fish

In their 2009 book Enough: Why The World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman have an anecdote about Ethiopia during the 2003 famine that distills what’s wrong with America’s food-aid system. As trucks carrying tons of US grains and beans entered Nazareth, a city in central Ethiopia, they passed warehouses full of tons of Ethiopian grains and beans—the surplus from a bumper crop two years earlier that had failed to sell when prices collapsed. Now, the market was undermined further by the arrival of international food aid. “American farmers have a market in Ethiopia, but we don’t have a market in Ethiopia,” said the manager of a grain-trading operation in Nazareth. He understood that Ethiopian-grown grain alone couldn’t feed the hungry, but he also…

7 min

The draw Re: “Streams of consciousness” by Ben Adler (CJR, May/June) Great read! As a millennial, I of course found it lengthy, and had to bookmark and come back a couple of times. But good content always wins. #LongForm-Journalism FTW ;-) Rob Graham Orlando, FL Junk food Re: Your editorial “Empty calories: To feed young minds, let’s add some nutrition to social media” (CJR, May/June) Sadly, most of what is churned out on social-media sites is opinion over facts, and so many people swallow whole whatever they hear, no matter how far-fetched. Social media has such an enormous reach, but ensuring that what is spread on these sites is original and relevant to the important things in the world today (as opposed to Bieber’s monkey) is a tall ask. Steve Wright Bungay, Suffolk, UK Smoking gun Thank you for…

16 min

Open Bar The Esquire Tavern San Antonio, TX Year opened Originally in 1933, the year Prohibition ended. It closed in 2006, and the current owner, Chris Hill, reopened it in 2011. Distinguishing features The Esquire claims to have the longest bar, at over 100 feet, in Texas; a patio overlooks a quiet stretch of the city’s River Walk; taxidermied wild animals adorn the bar and walls. Who drinks here Downtown dwellers, tourists, local artists, journalists, employees from the nearby courthouse and anyone who prefers their cocktails stiff Signature drink Moscow Mule with house-made ginger beer served in a copper mug On the record Esquire was nominated for a James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program, and when celebrity chefs are in town, they try to quietly stop by—but word travels fast —Jennifer McInnis is the wine and…

9 min
woman’s work

HE FINALLY WROTE TO ME. AFTER MORE THAN A YEAR OF FREELANCING FOR him, during which I contracted typhoid fever and was shot in the knee, my editor watched the news, thought I was among the Italian journalists who’d been kidnapped, and sent me an email that said: “Should you get a connection, could you tweet your detention?” That same day, I returned in the evening to a rebel base where I was staying in the middle of the hell that is Aleppo, and amid the dust and the hunger and the fear, I hoped to find a friend, a kind word, a hug. Instead, I found only another email from Clara, who’s spending her holidays at my home in Italy. She’s already sent me eight “Urgent!” messages. Today she’s looking…

12 min
mission impossible

WHAT US GOVERNMENT AGENCY WAS RECENTLY LABELED “DYSFUNCTIONAL” BY the State Department’s Inspector General, and year after year is rated in employee surveys as the worst—or near worst—place to work in government? If you guessed the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Marti, Radio Free Europe, and the rest of the federal government’s media outlets, you are correct. In 2009, Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson wrote that the BBG has come to mean “bottom of the barrel in government.” The core problem afflicting the BBG and its various entities is institutional schizophrenia. It is simultaneously a news organization trying to be a government agency, and a government agency trying to be a news outlet. Since 1942, the US government has been broadcasting—and now texting,…