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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review May - June 2014

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

At a public appearance in April, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman asked Hillary Clinton if she was interested in the 2016 presidency. Her voice answered “not right now,” even as, physically, she was grinning and nodding. As Clinton continues to play coy, though, news coverage is proceeding as though she already is the Democratic front-runner, some 30 months before the general election. BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, Politico, and The New York Times, among others, already have dedicated Clinton reporters. And Clinton has become a cover-story mainstay in a way past presumed front-runners haven’t until much closer to the primaries. “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” Time asked in January, a few weeks before The New York Times Magazine dubbed her “Planet Hillary.” And a recent Politico story about how a woman chucked…

6 min
letter from the editor

Drones and the free press Somehow, the FAA became an arbiter of the First Amendment The next great revolution in journalism might just be found at the Amazon store. It is called a drone, and one particular favorite of enthusiasts is the dji Phantom quadcopter. Battery-operated and gps-guided, it can cross the horizon at up to 22 milesper-hour and produce what its manufacturer calls dramatic cinema-quality video. ¶ These are not the drones common in news reports of late. They operate by handheld remote and to my knowledge have never been used to assassinate terrorists in the mountains of Pakistan. But if you’re a journalist, they can do amazing things—like glide through the smoked skies over a raging forest fire to track its forward path, or capture the game-winning touchdown at the…

7 min

Say it ain’t so Thank you for the article “Who cares if it’s true?” in the March/April edition. During my 30-year career as a daily news reporter in suburban New York (including beats in Newark and Jersey City), I came to believe that my superiors were increasingly more concerned about who said something was true rather than whether it was true or not. Thus the reader is frequently left with the confusing “he said” point vs counterpoint reportage. R. Clinton Taplin South Nyack, New York Seemingly forgotten in the internet journalism age is the psychological rule of primacy: The first fact someone learns about a topic, person or event can be very difficult to later “correct.” People have a tendency to cling to first-learned facts even if exposed to overwhelming evidence to the contrary…

18 min

Open Bar Albuquerque Press Club Albuquerque, NM Year opened The apc didn’t have an official home until 1973, when it bought a turn-of-the-last-century, three-story log cabin referred to as the Whittlesey House, named after its architect. Distinguishing features The apc is haunted—at least, that’s what locals will say when you take a seat at the old, knotted bar. And you’ll believe them. The resident ghost, according to staff, is “Mrs. M,” the spirit of Clifford “Cliffy” McCallum, who lived in the Whittlesey House for 40 years, starting in 1920. It’s also possible the cabin is visited by neighboring apparitions, who wander over from the former asylum a short distance down the hill and up the street (Elm Street, actually). Local lore tells of club doors opening themselves and wails coming from empty rooms. Who drinks…

5 min
and the prize goes to...

MANY PEOPLE HAVE A NAGGING SENSE THAT JOURNALISM AWARDS ARE ABOUT journalists’ vanity. No doubt, they have a point. The profession, after all, presents itself as being about the public interest, and yet every spring puts on a spectacle of self-congratulation and false modesty. But in this age of interminable metrics, it’s worth remembering that there is no real measure of the actual journalism itself. Quantity is easier to define—page views, unique visitors, shares—and those calculations seem to govern the conversation. But how do you measure the most extraordinary, the most ambitious, the all-around best? As with other subjective fields, the answer is often through peer-reviewed competitions. For decades, many of the contests shown below have become the principal force in surfacing the most defining work in journalism. And in so…

6 min
who’s running the miami herald?

WHEN I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE IN FLORIDA IN 1986 AND BEGAN LOOKING for jobs, several people told me not to bother applying to my hometown paper, The Miami Herald, because they hired only “blue-eyed, blond-haired boys from the Northeast.” I was—still am—brown-eyed and brown-haired, definitely not a boy, and clearly not from the Northeast. In fact, I had arrived from Cuba in a boat six years before graduation and was still learning new words in English. (“Azure” was a particularly pleasant discovery around that time.) I ended up applying to The Miami Herald anyway, and one of those “boys” hired me; though, frankly, he was not a boy anymore, nor was he blond. He was John Pancake, who said I was very “green,” but he sensed something in me. Part of what Pancake…