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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Nov-Dec-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

Last month’s Frontline documentary, League of Denial, was the emotional coda to the first phase of one of the most important stories in American sports: the long-term effects of repeated collisions on football players’ brains. Whatever questions remain—is the game’s routine head-knocking a problem, for instance, or just the vicious hits that turn up on SportsCenter?—there is little doubt that change is coming. The National Football League, after doing everything it could to make the story go away, in August agreed to pay more than $765 million to settle a lawsuit by former players. But the underlying reality—that the violence is part of what makes football America’s favorite sport (and a hugely profitable business)—remains. Can the rules be changed in ways that protect players without turning off fans? And what…

3 min
off the road

Here comes the ‘mobility’ beat In 2012, carmakers and dealers spent $14.8 billion on advertising, the second most of any sector. Newspapers have cut staff and pages and lowered their ambitions, but they’ve kept their auto sections because they still make money. Despite needing a government bailout four years ago, the automotive industry remains a force in American society. ¶ But beneath the business-as-usual façade, an important shift is under way in how Americans think about and use the automobile. As Micheline Maynard, a veteran reporter with a record of prescience on matters automotive, describes in our cover story, a combination of economic, environmental, and social changes is fueling demand for alternative ways of getting from here to there: bike and car shares, public transit, walking. Total miles driven in the…

8 min

Cursive While I can certainly appreciate the idea behind the cover of the September/October 2013 CJR, I do not appreciate the f-word being used so blatantly and prominently. I am not on a crusade to clean up America’s pottymouth. I realize millions of Americans use this word every day. I have friends who can use it as a noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. I understand the concept of free speech; and, as a lifelong journalist, freedom of the press is something I advocate and cherish. I’m sure there are instances where I would agree the use of the word is warranted. The cover of a magazine describing journalism isn’t one of them. Donnita Nesbit Fisher Managing Editor, Van Zandt Newspapers Canton, TX Could we keep the profanity off the cover? While most readers of the Review…

13 min

Open Bar McGeary’s Albany, NY Year opened 1982 Distinguishing features A stuffed hammerhead shark dangling over the middle of the main room, a patio that in warm weather sprawls along the entire street, and the occasional can’t-miss burlesque show. Who drinks here Bureaucrats celebrating the end of their day, copy editors and the reporters they torture, city councilmembers after their meetings, gay men and lesbians, punk rockers, and the occasional suburbanite taking in a show at a nearby theater. Signature drink A $2 pint of Utica Club—upstate New York’s homegrown answer to pbr. On the record McGeary’s rebooted in 2010 when Tess Collins, the doyenne of Tess’ Lark Tavern, relocated across town after a fire gutted her previous watering hole. That bar had long been a hangout for journalists, who over time have migrated to McGeary’s. Off the…

6 min
the mighty pen

A new project trains Syrians in Jordan to report on themselves WHEN HAZM AL-MAZOUNI SHOWS HIS PRESS PASS AT THE entrance to the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian desert, the guards don’t let him in. A 42-year-old native of Hama, Syria, Al-Mazouni’s status in Jordan is clear: refugee. But the guards are wary of his Radio al-Balad badge. “This is proof that we did something,” Al-Mazouni says, smiling. “A good thing.” Al-Mazouni has been a refugee for 11 months and a journalist for seven. He wears brown, horn-rimmed glasses and walks briskly, a laptop bag hanging from his shoulder and two cell phones in hand, one for personal calls, the other for work. Zaatari administrators are well aware of his reporting for Syrians Among Us, a radio news program and…

6 min
feel me?

The promise and perils of sensor-based journalism ONE LETTER CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. WHEN TALKING ABOUT SENSOR journalism, you must take care to note that you’re referring to sensors with an “s”—the shiny new tool in journalists’ storytelling toolbox—not censor with a “c.” Mechanical devices that monitor all sorts of biological, physical, and social data, sensors can provide vital insights into our communities and the world around us. Particularly in the fields of public-health and environmental journalism, they are already enhancing news and feature stories and have potential to generate investigative reports. But as with any technology, the implications of using sensors are not all benign. And there are questions, in the US and around the world, about how governments and other sources will respond to the use of sensors by…