Columbia Journalism Review

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Updated: 14 hours 27 min ago

How local media coverage is forcing Cleveland to try to finally fix its lead problem

February 9, 2016 - 12:48pm
Rachel Dissell lives in one of Cleveland’s “high risk” neighborhoods for lead exposure, a place where the state mandates screenings for small children. Still, when a blood test in late 2012 revealed that her young son had elevated levels in the aftermath of a home renovation, Dissell, a reporter for The Plain Dealer, was horrified--she hadn’t fully realized the scope...

Amid populist upheaval, A.O. Scott reviews criticism

February 9, 2016 - 5:50am
A.O. Scott’s new book asserts that criticism is a “fundamentally democratic undertaking.” That’s a surprisingly populist sentiment coming from one of the two chief film critics at The New York Times. Criticism is surely no longer an oligarchy, where writers can claim a monopoly on taste, nor a dictatorship, where they can control hits and flops. But in the eyes...

The trouble with growth

February 8, 2016 - 11:55am
A volatile market, plunging tech stocks, and fears of a looming recession (or at least, a major correction) are sending jolts through the media world. Last week Bloomberg reported that in December The Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund had cut Snapchat’s holding by 2 percent--its second write down of Snapchat in three months--and that Yahoo had reduced its valuation of...

Accentuate the positive

February 8, 2016 - 10:15am
A lot of people in France are in an uproar because of some proposed changes in the lingua franca, simplifying some spellings (ognon instead of oignon for “onion,” for example, and making their “week-end” into a shorter “weekend”). The biggest outrage, though, is reserved for the proposal to remove the circumflex (the little hat) above î and û if its...

The thorny ethics of embedding with do-gooders

February 8, 2016 - 5:50am
In August 2014, eight months into South Sudan’s still-raging conflict, some aid worker friends started telling me to get to Bentiu. That the tens of thousands of civilians crowded into the United Nations base on the town’s outskirts faced appalling conditions: food shortages, collapsed toilet blocks, and floodwater creeping into their makeshift homes. Frustrated humanitarians complained the UN Mission in...

Should journalists care if sources go off to prison?

February 5, 2016 - 5:50am
Ask yourself this question: Is it sufficient to protect journalists who report classified information while sources go off to prison? During the last half decade, a growing roster of national-security reporters has withstood government pressure to reveal confidential sources. They’ve done so with the steady support of news organizations and well-heeled groups that work to protect journalists from threats of...

Amid big changes in Philly media, startup Billy Penn sticks to its vision

February 4, 2016 - 1:51pm
In the 16 months since the news startup Billy Penn launched, the media landscape in Philadelphia, the site’s home city, has changed dramatically. The major dailies made a radical shift to a nonprofit model, the alt-weekly City Paper was shuttered, the public radio station lost experienced leadership, and other digital startups went live, making their own bid for local readers....

It takes two jobs and 21 hours a day to run a hyperlocal news site

February 4, 2016 - 12:37pm
At 7am Tuesday morning, Franklin Tucker has been awake for nearly 21 hours. And in a few short hours, he’ll start another 21-hour day. Tucker is the editor in chief of the Belmontonian, a hyperlocal news site for the Boston suburb of Belmont where he lives. A journalist for 25 years, Tucker also serves as the site’s sole reporter, as...

Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

February 4, 2016 - 9:23am
In this week's Lower case, animals throughout history ...   The Seattle Times, 9/25/77   The Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/16/68   Metropolis (Ill.) Planet, 9/20/73   The Milwaukee Journal, 2/18/77   Berkshire Courier (Mass.), 12/24/74   San Jose Mercury, 5/18/76  

Why the rock star vs. candidate narrative is overblown

February 3, 2016 - 1:05pm
In one corner, there’s the knock-’em-down and laugh-out-loud Republican presidential favorite Donald Trump. In the other, the new queen of soul, Adele. Got your popcorn? Good. Let the show begin. That’s how some in the media have portrayed the relationship between Trump and Adele after news broke this week that Trump has played the British pop star’s music on the...

Meet the reporting duo helping a mid-size Illinois paper punch above its weight

February 3, 2016 - 10:45am
The story started when a grandmother called the Belleville News-Democrat in Southern Illinois. Her 14-year-old granddaughter had been gang raped, she said, but no one had been arrested, and no one had been prosecuted. By the time News-Democrat reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer started looking into the assault in 2010, five or six months had passed. The case had...

The media is riding Marcomentum into New Hampshire

February 3, 2016 - 5:50am
The Iowa caucuses are a referendum on expectations. Look no further than the media coverage of Donald Trump’s second-place finish on Monday night, which cast the billionaire as a loser despite drawing 4,000 more caucus votes than any GOP candidate before him. The problem? Ted Cruz attracted more—27 percent of caucus goers compared to 24 percent for Trump—shattering the win-first,...

After Cologne, European press seeks to balance private and public safety

February 2, 2016 - 3:15pm
Nearly a month after the European media was scolded for failing to adequately cover sexual assaults allegedly committed by male refugees at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Cologne, Germany, the event is being seen by some as a turning point in how the press covers migration. Local police, concerned about stoking anti-migrant sentiment, initially denied that the New Year’s...

The art of disappearing into a room

February 2, 2016 - 11:20am
Sara Naomi Lewkowicz’ first internship, as an aspiring photojournalist fresh out of college in 2007, was at Inside Lacrosse magazine in Baltimore. When the internship ended, Lewkowicz stayed in Charm City, working as a nanny, waiting tables, and freelancing for the Baltimore Sun. On tax forms, she wrote “photographer” for occupation, but photography didn’t pay the bills; even with her...

How the Connecticut Health I-Team became 'a leader of niche news'

February 2, 2016 - 5:50am
In the midst of the Great Recession, Lynne DeLucia and Lisa Chedekel did the same thing many other journalists were doing: They launched a nonprofit news organization. It was impossible to know whether the venture would succeed, but they saw a need, and an opportunity. Five years later, DeLucia and Chedekel’s project, the Connecticut Health I-Team, is still around—and it...

Politics for sale

February 1, 2016 - 2:07pm
In 1980, The Associated Press political writer Hugh Mulligan wrote that New Hampshire “may be the last stronghold of ‘retail politics,’ where the candidate must sell himself on the doorstep, in the supermarket, at the factory gate, atop the ski lift and, a relatively recent wrinkle, at endless coffee klatches.” In 1996, William Safire wrote in The New York Times...

A newspaper publisher joins the effort to boost Latino turnout at the Iowa caucuses

February 1, 2016 - 5:50am
Tonight, as Iowa residents head to caucus meetings around the state to cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential race, fleets of campaign organizers, operatives, and strategists will be focused on meeting their turnout goals. So will at least one newspaper publisher. Tarsicio (Tar) Macias founded the monthly Latino newspaper Hola Iowa in 2014, and like any publisher, he...

What a major leadership change means for Politico's global ambitions

February 1, 2016 - 5:50am
Politico is accustomed to watching staffers depart through its ever-revolving door. Its most prolific blogger left in 2011 to run a growing viral site called BuzzFeed. Its managing editor went to CNN Politics in mid-2014 to build out a digital juggernaut. Three top Politico reporters took their talents to The New York Times in a span of 19 months. Such...

Las Vegas Review-Journal backtracks on ownership disclosure

January 29, 2016 - 3:40pm
Just last week, Glenn Cook, the interim editor of the embattled Las Vegas Review-Journal, told me, with some pride, that “there is no daily newspaper in America more transparent about ownership and potential conflicts than the Review-Journal.” He was referring, first and foremost, to a standing disclosure about the paper’s ownership by the family of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson that...

Inside The Invisible Institute's fight for police accountability

January 29, 2016 - 12:25pm
The plaintiff in that case, Jamie Kalven, is the founder of The Invisible Institute, and he’s been fighting for police accountability since long before it was cool. The FOIA lawsuit Kalven v. Chicago was filed in 2007, but his interest in the misconduct complaints began before that, when he was a reporter and community organizer at Stateway Gardens, a...

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