Important Message: New Columbia Policy on Field Reporting | Columbia Journalism School

Important Message: New Columbia Policy on Field Reporting

Please find below the communication that was sent via email today from Dean Steve Coll and Dean of Academic Affairs Sheila Colonel.


The university issued updated guidance today that will affect our policy about field and in-person reporting for the remainder of the semester. 

The headline is that effective immediately, no J-School students or researchers should conduct in-person reporting, filming, recording or interviews for Columbia classes or projects. The university expects that this restriction will last 6-8 weeks but it may revise that as circumstances change.

Students, if you have plans or appointments for in-person reporting, please convert them to telephone or video interviews, or if this is not feasible, cancel or reschedule. Faculty, if you have been consulting with students about field or in-person reporting plans, please reach out as soon as possible to your classes and advisees and make sure they are aware of this new restriction.

We know that this news is a further unwelcome constraint as we push toward the end of our semester, but the primary purpose of the decision is to guard your safety and the safety of vulnerable people in New York, and so I’m sure you can appreciate the ethical and practical reasoning behind it. In addition to the other adaptations of syllabi that have already begun in our remote seminars, we can make the best of these circumstances by intensifying our engagement with reporting from a distance -- methodologies increasingly rich and important in this age of intense connectivity, as we have seen, for example, in international coverage of the Syrian war.

We also appreciate that video and visual production classes will face the greatest challenges in light of this news. Sheila, Laura and I will consult soon with the faculty members involved to clarify specific questions and to think through our options.

Our goal remains to do everything we can to allow students to earn their credits and degrees on time, while ensuring that students achieve the learning outcomes and abilities that faculty have identified.

Separately, President Bollinger sent an update message today to the Columbia community. It contains important news and insight into university decision-making but no policy changes that affect us at this time.

Hang in there, stay well, and make the best of Spring Break. If you can keep in touch with your e-mail inbox, that would be very helpful, as the situation is obviously dynamic, and updates are likely to come daily. As governmental authorities make their own decisions in the days ahead, the university will remain a key source of information that is directly relevant to you.

Your deans and your faculty remain dedicated to your studies and your well-being. We expect your questions and we will do everything we can to support you.


Steve and Sheila