Columbia Journalism School’s New Ira A. Lipman Journalism and Civil and Human Rights Center to Award Two Fellowships; Initiative Led by Award-Winning Journalist Jelani Cobb

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism announced today The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, dedicated to advancing the mission of civil rights coverage, especially in the United States. 

“With contentious debates around immigration, religious freedom, voter suppression, crime and police accountability, we need journalism that can inform and shape our understanding of race, gender, diversity and the evolution of civil rights,” said Dean Steve Coll in announcing the center. “We are fortunate that we have in Ira A. Lipman a champion of both public interest journalism and equal rights for all Americans.” 

At the heart of the center’s mission is the establishment of annual fellowships intended to produce significant civil and human rights reportage.  In 2018, its first year, the center will name two Ira A. Lipman Fellows in Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, one senior and one junior. They will be poised to make significant contributions to the school and the industry. Applications for the fellowship may be submitted from Feb. 1 to March 31, 2018.

“Journalism is vitally important today and will be always in the future.  It is our first line of defense against those who would subject the world to lies and ignorance.  By spreading light and truth, journalists have the power and influence to make the world a better place to live in, not just for a few, but for millions or even billions,” said Ira A. Lipman.  “It is essential that we make society more hospitable to both tolerance and truth for our fellow human beings.  This center will help accomplish that mission.”

The center, directed by Jelani Cobb, the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and an expert on history and race in the U.S., will convene leaders in journalism, and civil and human rights, and conduct research around social justice issues. The center will also enhance the academic experience of current journalism school students by contributing to curricula design and developing student activities inspired by the center’s work.

“Our objective in all of our work is to help shape the discourse around a fraught subject that continues to undergird a great deal of American life,” Cobb said. “We hope to support a cohort of reporters who bring the depth of knowledge and perspective to the coverage of race that we routinely expect of journalists who cover the economy, politics and foreign policy. To do so would be a service to the profession, and to the public.”

The school also administers the John Chancellor Award For Excellence in Journalism established in 1995 by Ira A. Lipman. Chancellor Award winners include the late Gwen Ifill, Dan Balz and Alissa J. Rubin. In addition, Mr. Lipman supports the John Chancellor Scholarships, which provide financial assistance to students who demonstrate leadership qualities embodied by the late NBC News correspondent.


About Columbia Journalism School
For more than a century, the school has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened its doors in 1912 and offers Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications.  It houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Mike Berger Awards.

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