Columbia Journalism Review

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Hip: What's in a name?

October 5, 2015 - 2:39pm
Watch what happens to the images in your head with these descriptions: He’s hip. He’s a hippie. He’s a hipster. Notice how the person you were picturing changed, from beatnik cool to counterculture peacenik, to ... what? Someone in ironic jeans? A young, self-aware artistic type scrambling to get the latest trendy pastry before the rest of the world (or...

A veteran California reporter on why she's excited to join Politico

October 5, 2015 - 11:11am
It’s been eight years since Politico launched just outside the nation’s capital and started to change the way DC politics is covered. Now, the outlet is going nationwide. There are Politico sites for New York, New Jersey and Florida, and “Playbooks”—the signature daily politics tip sheets—for Massachusetts and Illinois. California, the biggest state of all, comes next. Late last month,...

How a reporter captured the moment a fifth grader found out she was HIV positive

October 5, 2015 - 6:50am
The moment 10-year-old JJ learned she has HIV had been carefully orchestrated for months. But for reporter John Woodrow Cox, documenting this moment and the events leading up to it were an exercise in not telling: not writing crucial details that would reveal JJ’s identity to the public, not attending events where his own identity as a reporter could compromise...

Why the religion beat poses unique challenges for some reporters

October 2, 2015 - 3:00pm
As countless others before her have done for centuries, Michelle Boorstein recently sought rabbinic advice on a difficult decision she faced. Boorstein, who has been the religion reporter at The Washington Post since 2006, had decided she was going to report on Pope Francis’s historic visit to Washington, rather than reporting to synagogue for services on Yom Kippur, the culmination...

After 400 days in Egyptian jail, an Al Jazeera reporter is on a mission

October 2, 2015 - 2:03pm
Peter Greste doesn’t know where home is. The Australian Al Jazeera correspondent, formerly based in Kenya, covered East Africa for years before Egyptian authorities arrested him and two colleagues on terrorism charges in December 2013. Greste spent 400 days in a Cairo jail before being deported to Australia in February. Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed were first convicted in...

California libel protection now covers online publications

October 2, 2015 - 1:01pm
Here’s one for the changing-media-landscape file: California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this week to update his state’s libel laws, bringing consistency to the treatment of print and online publications. “Our libel laws now rightly treat new media sources the same as traditional newspapers,” the bill’s sponsor said—appropriately enough—in a Facebook post. At issue was the state’s “libel retraction”...

Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

October 1, 2015 - 2:50pm
To celebrate the first day of a new month, Lower case visits some October favorites from the archives:   Everett (Wash.) Herald, 10/10/78   Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/27/77   Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 10/24/75   Vermonter, 10/16/77   Have a headline you want to share? Snap a photo and email it to or tweet it to us @CJR....

Why education reporters are missing the grade

October 1, 2015 - 12:40pm
“Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad's proposal to double the number of charter schools threatens the financial stability of the Los Angeles Unified School District, according to LAUSD's board president.” So opens a recent story from the Southern California public radio station KPCC LA, which goes on to give readers predictable reactions to the proposed $490 million charter school expansion. First comes...

Can I use that? A legal primer for journalists

October 1, 2015 - 6:50am
As a media law scholar and practicing media lawyer, I field all manner of questions every week—from students, journalists, editors, and others. Whether I’m speaking generally to a non-client or giving specific legal advice to a client, I’ve noticed that the questions fall into three broad categories: Can I use that? Can I say that? Can I do that? Within...

Three ways news outlets are making money

September 30, 2015 - 2:50pm
Among all of the seminars being tweeted about last Friday at the Online News Association Conference, there was one that rose to the top. Festooned with the hashtag #newsrevenue, it was a panel on revenue and ethics, called The Revenue Review: Memberships, Advertising, and Events, and attendees were clearly loving it:   #newsrevenue #ona15. One of the meatiest sessions so...

Why a Florida TV station devoted 6,000 words to its latest investigation

September 30, 2015 - 12:10pm
In the years since people in the news industry first began talking about “convergence” and the melding of traditilonal print and video forms online, plenty of newspapers have created video operations—national and local papers now win Murrow Awards and show up regularly on the list of Emmy nominees. And around the country, there are examples of local TV stations making...

For ultra-Orthodox newspapers, women and the Web present growing challenges

September 30, 2015 - 6:50am
The biggest nightmare the country’s major ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers and magazines face these days is that Hillary Clinton will be elected president. It’s not just her politics that worries these publications, although they are far to the right of Clinton on most issues. More troublesome is her gender. For reasons of tradition and modesty, and in line with some interpretations of...

Misleading coverage of a major gun study highlights the danger of fast reporting

September 29, 2015 - 3:50pm
At a time of high-profile shootings and rising crime in many cities, the journal Preventive Magazine has published a special issue on gun violence, bringing together leading scholars to illuminate a subject that is often overwhelmed by political rancor. Guest editors David Hemenway and Daniel Webster apply a public health perspective to a field in which policy decisions have life-and-death...

Photographing the first generation of children with openly LGBT parents

September 29, 2015 - 1:15pm
Danielle was raised by six parents. Hope has two dads. And Ilana, on her 16th birthday, confronted her mother (at the time married to her father) with a question: “Are you having an affair?” she asked. “With Elizabeth?” Danielle, Hope, and Ilana are the children of LGBT parents--those fairly rare creatures that have been prodded and poked by science, leveraged...

A problematic preposition

September 28, 2015 - 2:50pm
Prepositions are handy things, cementing the relationship between parts of a sentence. In the sentence “He was caught between a rock and a hard place,” for example, the preposition “between” connects his predicament and the site of his predicament. In “She won’t come out from under the table, the preposition “under” connects her refusal with the place she’s refusing to...

The art of the tough interview

September 28, 2015 - 12:15pm
I thought about the art--and craft--of interviewing after seeing Donald Trump's response to Megyn Kelly last month during the 2016 Republican Presidential debate. Kelly asked him about statements he had made about the physical appearance of some women he didn’t like, and Trump retaliated by fulminating all over the other networks, referring not so obliquely to Kelly’s menstrual cycle. In...

What can the UN do for press freedom?

September 28, 2015 - 6:50am
The United Nations General Assembly shifts into high gear today, and leaders of some of the world’s most repressive countries will be in full public relations mode. Vladimir Putin of Russia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, and Xi Jinping of China will not only address the General Assembly, they will speak at public events, do the...

Huffington Post Highline cuts through the noise

September 25, 2015 - 3:40pm
It doesn’t feel like a Huffington Post story—it feels like a tome. The narrative is historical and methodical, exhaustive and, at times, exhausting. It’s 58,000 words split over 15 chapters, one released each day since Sept. 15. “If you come to something online that’s a massive thing, your first reaction is that you can’t read all of that: I have...

Why one reporter is suing Missouri over death-penalty secrecy—again

September 25, 2015 - 11:30am
Reporter Chris McDaniel, formerly of St. Louis Public Radio, took a job with BuzzFeed and moved to New York City earlier this year. But he hasn’t let go of the story—and the related legal battle—that occupied much of his time in Missouri. In May 2014, while still with SLPR, McDaniel filed a lawsuit, along with the Reporters Committee for Freedom...

Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

September 24, 2015 - 1:07pm
In this week's headlines ... Wording on this headline is just so bad.— Ben Waldman (@BenjWaldman) September 17, 2015   Have a headline you want to share? Snap a photo and email it to or tweet it to us @CJR. This article originally posted a headline from the 1980s that has since been removed.