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Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review Spring 2016

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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
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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

STEVE COLL has been Dean of Columbia Journalism School since 2013. A former president of the New America Foundation, he is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes on politics, national security, and the media. He is the author of seven nonfiction books, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter, foreign correspondent, and senior editor at The Washington Post. —p17 DAVID FINKEL is the national enterprise editor at The Washington Post and the author of two books about war: The Good Soldiers and Thank You For Your Service. Among his honors are a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2012. —p36 JENNIFER BERRY HAWES is a projects writer at Charleston’s Post and Courier. She was part…

3 min.
a note from the editor

The New York World for its articles exposing the operations of the Ku Klux Klan, 1922. William Leonard Laurence of The New York Times for his eyewitness account of the atom-bombing of Nagasaki and subsequent articles on its significance, 1946. Seymour Hersh of Dispatch News Service for his exclusive disclosure of the Vietnam War tragedy at the hamlet of My Lai, 1970. The New York Times for its publication of the Pentagon Papers, 1972. The Washington Post for its investigation of the Watergate case, 1973. The Guardian US and The Washington Post for their revelations of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, 2014. If ever there was a case to be made for the power of a Pulitzer Prize, it is contained in the preceding paragraph, which itself contains…

6 min.
the hole in the heart of american journalism

Toward the end of his life, the great and not altogether high-minded press baron Joseph Pulitzer sought to advance the idea that journalism should become a profession, akin to law or accounting, but devoted to the public interest. He lived in an age of concentrated wealth and technological disruption. He feared for the health of American democracy. He thought well-trained reporters could help protect the voting public from lies and corruption. And so he endowed Columbia Journalism School to secure his plan for education, and he endowed the Pulitzer Prizes to recognize excellence in journalistic practice. Very few visions of philanthropic influence work out as well as Pulitzer’s did. At their centennial the Pulitzer Prizes have remarkable cultural purchase. Among other things, they assure winners that the first sentence of their…

6 min.
100 years of data

TO EXPLORE these demographics in more detail, visit cjr.org. Within the cardboard boxes and reams of microfilm that hold the last century of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism lies a troubling story about a group of journalistic underdogs: the women and people of color who are being shut out of American journalism’s most prestigious award. As the graphics in these pages show, the ranks of Pulitzer winners have grown more diverse, but progress has been so slow that the percentage of non-white winners over the lawst decade is essentially identical to the percentage over the last 100 years. The news is better for women, who, while still a distinct minority, are at least gaining ground faster, and winning Prizes in a range of categories often thought to be heavily male-dominated, such as investigative and…

9 min.
the double-consciousness of john h. white

It is winter in New Orleans, and my mother is dying. As I sit at her bedside, on the verge of being overcome with grief, I try to distract myself with work. I’ve been asked to write about the great Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John H. White: his pictures, his legacy, and his famously unique spirit. My mother has dementia. She and I are alone, except for her cat curled up asleep at her side. But thinking about John White makes me feel like I have company. In this dark moment, my memories of him, like the images he captured with his camera, feel like a gift. I remember the night he touched my life. The Eddie Adams Workshop is an institution in the world of photojournalism: four days for professionals and students…

7 min.
mooning the pulitzer board

If you were seeking a visual metaphor to use in a cartoon about how Pat Oliphant sought out the 1967 Pulitzer for editorial cartooning, the image of him bending over to offer a view of his derriere to the Pulitzer Board would work nicely. As he tells it, he wanted to make a point about how the Pulitzer Board’s choices in the cartoon category were more about personal politics than identifying exemplary work in this field. Oliphant looked back at previous winners of the editorial cartooning prize and, based on that, chose from his work a submission he thought would suit the judge’s tastes and the prevailing political opinion at the time. He says now it was “one of the worst cartoons I’ve ever drawn.” It depicted the president of North Vietnam,…