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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review May-Jun-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

In December, as an impromptu inside joke, British designer and journalist Martin Belam took 10 minutes to craft a pie chart entitled “What Twitter will look like on the day that Thatcher dies.” The former prime minister was reportedly ill at the time, and Belam and some journalist friends were discussing whether it was appropriate to satirize her. “She hadn’t even died,” Belam said, “and there was already a debate about how respectful you needed to be.” The pie included slices like “Journalists looking on Twitter for people who are gloating in order to write articles about the outrage.” It was retweeted about 200 times, and then shares dwindled to a handful per week. Four months later, on April 8, Margaret Thatcher did die. The tweet has since been shared more…

3 min
empty calories

If you’ve spent time with anyone under 25 recently, you will have noticed that they get their news from their friends on their phones—much of it from social-media feeds. At the same time, more and more journalism shops that underwrite enterprise reporting are starting to lock their wares behind paywalls. Someday in the nottoo-distant future, it seems, there will be very little credible news for the bloggers and scrapers to aggregate. So where does that leave the young adults of tomorrow? How can they quickly tell what’s true? How can they get beyond the superficial updates about Justin Bieber’s monkey or Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy? Believe it or not, some current high-school journalism students are worried about these questions, too (see page 27). If they stick to what their social networks…

7 min

Common ground Can’t say enough good things about your intelligent, insightful roundtable discussion on race and class (“Fair Share,” a conversation hosted by Farai Chideya, CJR, March/April). I hope it will spark many more discussions in newsrooms (and exec suites) across the country. Kudos to CJR for making it the cover story and then giving it so much room to roam. Byron Reimus Yardley, PA Correction In our March/April cover story “Fair share,” we quoted the Lexington Herald-Leader: “It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.” While we took the comment at face value, the editor in question, John Carroll, actually intended it as a rueful preface to a serious examination of his paper’s lapses in civil rights coverage. We apologize for…

15 min
open bar: the gandamack

Gandamack Lodge Kabul, Afghanistan Although the bar’s official name is the Hare and Hound Watering Hole, most people know it as The Gandamack. Year opened 2001. The founder of the lodge, Peter Jouvenal, was a cameraman working with the bbc’s John Simpson when the Taliban were ousted from Kabul. Hordes of journalists flocked to Afghanistan to cover the fall of the oppressive regime, but few had a place to stay. Jouvenal found a house and began renting rooms. The lodge moved to its current location in 2005. Who drinks there As the only real bar in Kabul, the cavernous basement pub of the Gandamack Lodge is a favorite hangout for journalists, ngo workers, nato representatives, and private security contractors in tight T-shirts that show off tattooed muscles. Diners from the restaurant trickle downstairs around…

11 min
an ink-stained stretch

Rob Curley, one of the more prominent digital journalists of the last decade, had just about had it with newspapers. Tired of laying people off and trading print dollars for digital dimes, he quit his job as chief content officer of the Las Vegas Sun last summer to take an executive job at a real-estate company. But then a relatively unknown investor named Aaron Kushner called. Kushner and his partner, Eric Spitz, had just bought the Orange County Register and had an improbable (some would say impossible) plan to resurrect the gutted paper: Invest heavily in journalism—and in print. “I had no interest in coming to the Register,” says Curley, “but I sat down and talked to him and said, ‘Shoot, I’m coming.’” Kushner, a 40-year-old former greeting-card executive with zero experience…

11 min
sticking with the truth

In 1998, The Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals, published a study by lead author Andrew Wakefield, a British physician who claimed there might be a link between the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (mmr) and autism, the developmental disorder that afflicts one out of every 88 children in the US. The paper coincided with growing concern among parents in the US and UK about a possible connection between the rising number of childhood vaccinations and the rising rate of autism among kids. Although the trends were only coincidental, Wakefield’s paper helped spark a debate about the supposed link that has played out in the media over the last 15 years. Among scientists, however, there really was never much of a debate; only a small group of researchers…