Business & Finance
Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review July - August 2015

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
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4 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
opening shot

When Vermont senator Bernie Sanders announced his presidential bid, the media’s reaction ran from disdain to derision. The New York Times buried the announcement on page A21 despite having put Hillary Clinton’s kickoff on the front page. cbs gave it a single sentence at the end of a two-minute piece on Clinton. The obituary was in: Sanders wasn’t credible. Voters thought otherwise. In the campaign’s first 24 hours, 35,000 donors gave Sanders an imposing $1.5 million. Crowds of 5,000 in Denver and Burlington and 4,000 in Minneapolis came to hear him, as compared to Clinton’s 5,000 in New York City. His support among Democratic voters climbed from 4 percent in March to 15 percent in May, which compares favorably to Barack Obama’s 22 percent mere days before the first primary in…

3 min.
finding empathy online

Almost since the dawn of digital media, a meta question has hovered over us: Will the power of journalism diminish as people start reading everything on their phones, tablets, and laptops? ¶ Will digital readers be able to concentrate on what they read? Will they develop the same connection and level of empathy for the people and ideas in stories when they read online? Will they find the stories as compelling? Will they engage with them in the same way? Questions like these were at the heart of an ambitious research project that Columbia Journalism Review took on this past year. The first part of our endeavor involved an exhaustive look at past research on how readers respond to digital content versus print. One scientist, Maryanne Wolf, found that a digital…

6 min.

Send lettersletters@cjr.org Polls, or paradigms? CJR makes an important point in your look at the coverage of senator Bernie Sanders (“Bernie Sanders can’t win: Why the press loves to hate underdogs,” May 2015). Political journalists should not try to pick winners and losers. That’s the job of voters. Predicting the outcome of elections isn’t really very interesting and we aren’t any good at it anyway. But you go beyond your reporting in saying that: “Spurious though early polls may be as a predictor of who will win the nomination, every large news organization uses them to allot campaign coverage— or to justify the coverage they’ve already decided to give.” Every large news organization? I’ve been involved in presidential campaign coverage at three very large news organizations since Walter Mondale tried to unseat Ronald Reagan in 1984. At NPR, arguably…

1 min.
the last laugh

Even after Khadija Ismayilova had spent several months in prison—an event human rights organizations call “retribution” for her investigative reporting on the regime in Azerbaijan—Ismayilova had not lost her sense of humor. In a letter from prison, published by The Washington Post in February, Ismayilova recounted how her cell had been searched and all of her notes confiscated. “I guess there are many devoted readers of mine at the penitentiary. They are taking turns reading my notes. That is why it is taking them such a long time to return what they have taken from me,” Ismayilova wrote. As a contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Ismayilova is known for her investigations into the corruption of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and has been the target of intimidation campaigns frequently used against…

2 min.
off the record hillary clinton’s 40,150 minutes

Among the questions percolating in the lead-up to Hillary Clinton’s April 12 campaign kickoff was how the Democratic hopeful would try to reboot a historically frosty relationship with the press. Journalists have hounded Clinton for decades, and a hair-trigger PR outfit alienated the media as her 2008 presidential campaign lost steam. But few guessed Clintonworld’s gameplan over her first two months back on the trail. The candidate answered just 25 questions from journalists between April 12 and June 14, a span that included a 28-day period of radio silence starting on April 21. Journalists have made various attempts to shame Clinton into acknowledging the media exists, such as The Washington Post’s ongoing tally of the minutes between her taking questions—the Clinton clock peaked at 40,150 minutes on May 19. Campaigns often…

7 min.
the history behind the chocolate hoax and why it was almost a ‘beer & schnapps’ hoax

How much chocolate does it take to fool a journalist? Turns out not much. Earlier this month, Peter Onneken and Diana Löbl, a pair of documentary filmmakers from Germany, and John Bohannon, a biologist and science journalist based at Harvard, revealed that they had tricked millions of people—including their peers at The Daily Star, Cosmopolitan’s German site, and the German and Indian sites of The Huffington Post—into believing chocolate could help them lose weight. The hoax exposed how easy it can be to turn shoddy research into headline-making news. They pulled it off with little more than a mock clinical trial, some cooked statistics, and one fake website— plus a small army of journalists who were either too stressed or too lazy to check the facts, and a diet industry that…