Blog Profile / Columbia Journalism Review

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Archived Since:April 26, 2008

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How a pizzeria took center stage in coverage of Indiana's religious freedom law

The front lines of the national culture war over LGBT rights shifted this week to a family-owned pizzeria in Walkerton, IN, a town of about 2,000. Speaking to local TV station WBND on Tuesday, the owners of Memories Pizza threw their support behind the contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Though the restaurateurs don’t deny regular service to LGBT patrons, they...

What reporters forgot to tell you about the 'doc fix' bill and changes to Medicare

What’s in it? Who does this affect short- and long-term? Who’s going to pay for it (and who is not)? It should go without saying that these are among the key questions reporters ought to tackle whenever the House or Senate passes a bill. Coverage of the “doc fix” bill passed by the House last week, unfortunately, did not adequately...

When a state senator compares police to terrorists, you expect local papers to have the first say

On March 20, Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers compared police to ISIS terrorists in a legislative committee hearing on a concealed-carry gun bill, one that would allow residents to carry hidden firearms into establishments that serve alcohol and allow off-duty police to carry their weapons when attending events on school grounds. Show More Summary

Seymour Hersh on My Lai and the state of investigative journalism

In 1968, a group of American soldiers massacred more than 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians in a village known in the Army as “Pinkville.” The following year, a young American reporter exposed the massacre in what became a watershed in the American public’s understanding of the war in Vietnam. “Pinkville” turned out to be the hamlet of My Lai 4. The...

Why encryption is crucial for all news organizations

Most discussions of digital security begin with Edward Snowden. In November 2014, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press held a conference on news organizations and security subtitled “Solutions to Surveillance Post-Snowden.”...Show More Summary

Don't forget these changes to the AP Stylebook

The Associated Press Stylebook announced some changes last week at the annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society. (Full disclosure: This columnist, as president of the ACES Education Fund, is a member of the ACES board.)...Show More Summary

Covering Scott Walker as a local and national story

Jason Stein’s beat has gone national. The state capitol reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has tracked Wisconsin political drama locally for a decade. But with Governor Scott Walker instituting sweeping policies and then navigating...Show More Summary

60 Minutes' Africa 'problem'

The media’s narrative in Africa typically falls into at least one of three narrow categories, according to Columbia Journalism School associate professor Howard French: Immense Catastrophe, White Protagonists, or Wildlife. CBS’ 60 Minutes...Show More Summary

The huge FCC fine against a Virginia station is a sign we need to rethink broadcast indecency rules

“The stroking of an erect penis on a broadcast [news] program is shocking.” Count those among the words I didn’t expect to type this week. They appear in a written notice released Monday by the FCC. It informs WDBJ, a Roanoke, VA, television station, that the FCC intends to fine it $325,000—for a July 2012 news report that included, for...

Gazette publisher in Colorado defends controversial marijuana series

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- On Sunday, The Gazette, the daily newspaper here in Colorado's second-largest city, published the first of a four-day series called "Clearing the Haze," about the state's marijuana legalization experiment. SoShow More Summary

How to cover Medicaid during campaign season

Amid the abundance of presidential campaign coverage, stories that examine what type of a president a candidate might be—what he or she might do, policy-wise—are often hard to come by. The horse race dominates, but there is much more to cover and the super-charged topic of healthcare and the Affordable Care Act is a compelling place to start. With a...

What happens when platforms turn into publishers?

If you’re a publisher, Facebook holds a lot of power. The social media giant is already responsible for directing up to 40 percent of some sites’ traffic, and 75 percent of BuzzFeed’s. Now, according to a report in The New York Times on Tuesday, Facebook is negotiating with a number of publishers to be more than a funnel that directs...

How Chicago's press corps is dealing with 'Washington Rahm'

For four years now, Mary Ann Ahern has been chasing Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel, a three-term Illinois congressman and former White House chief of staff who became Chicago’s mayor in 2011, has ducked out back doors while Ahern, a veteran TV reporter, has been waiting to talk to him, she said. He has retaliated for coverage he hasn't liked by restricting...

Academics are hardly mentioned in March Madness coverage

March Madness, the annual NCAA Division I basketball tournament, has been as chaotic as usual so far, with obscure underdogs eliminating top teams and numerous games decided in the final seconds. But at least one thing is different this year: More people are questioning whether it’s right that the players at the center of the extravaganza, which generates over a...

Why 'transgender' is preferred over 'transgendered'

Last week, in sharing some grammar “rules” that you love and hate, we mentioned the comments on our use the previous week of “transgendered,” as in “Many transgendered people ?” @meperl quick heads-up on the first item: "transgender"...Show More Summary

How the Medill Justice Project has thrived following controversy

More than four years after it was engulfed in controversy, the Medill Innocence Project remains in the headlines—and not always for the right reasons. Northwestern University, the project’s home, was hit last month with a well-publicized lawsuit by a man who says he was wrongfully jailed for 15 years as the result of an Innocence Project probe that freed a...

3 tips for understanding science journalism

Is Alcoholics Anonymous the most effective way to treat addiction? Some science and health journalists said yes this week. Others journalists said no. This puts readers in an awkward position: How do you make sense of it when good journalists...Show More Summary

The economics of the podcast boom

I’m about to celebrate my one-year anniversary as a podcaster. I started a show with two of my friends (one is my co-host, the other is our producer) last year because we noticed that more and more people were talking about and listening to podcasts, and we wanted to figure out what makes the medium tick. In some ways, being...

It’s Sunshine Week—but some states have a funny way of celebrating

We’re in the middle of Sunshine Week--an annual celebration of the importance of open government and freedom of information. But as state lawmakers gather for their spring sessions around the country, the sunshine spirit is stronger in some places than others. Show More Summary

No surprise: Campaign ads dominate issues coverage on local news, study finds

In Philadelphia, “journalism never had a fighting chance.” That's part of the conclusion of a new study, released today, that looked at the extent to which local TV stations critically examined issues presented in political ads in the nation's fourth largest media market during the 2014 election. The bottom line: They didn't. The study comes from the Philly Political Media...

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