Important Messages to the J-School Community | Columbia Journalism School
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Important Messages to the J-School Community

The following is the third piece in an ongoing conversation addressing the George Floyd protests and racial justice. Please read the previous two responses: A Message to the J-School Community and Faculty Denounce Police Attacks on Journalists.


We are living in a time of extraordinary uncertainty, anger and sorrow. Since March, more than 100,000 Americans have died of a virus that mere months earlier barely had a name. The death toll has disproportionately affected communities of color. The scourge has not been accompanied by any relief in these communities from police violence, systemic racism or racial injustice. More names have been added to a list of senseless killings of unarmed black Americans that was already unconscionably long: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, whose death on Memorial Day while in the custody of police officers has led to murder charges against those officers and to massive nationwide protests demanding change. 

A moment of reckoning has spawned a movement, and to advance this movement and to contribute to its durability, institutions like ours must redouble our commitment to change. As journalists and as educators, we are in a position to do so. As journalists, we can use the power of in-depth reporting and storytelling to shine light on injustices wherever they exist and to hold accountable the individuals and institutions that allow them to persist. As educators, we can create classrooms and faculty rosters that represent and are committed to diversity, and that facilitate teaching and discussion to advance our awareness of racism, both overt and subtle, as well as the ways to combat it.

One way to begin this summer is to read deeply, as part of a broader commitment by all of us as individuals to understand these complex issues and create meaningful and lasting change. We offer the following readings on the history and meanings of American racism, as well as on race and journalism, which have been suggested by our faculty, deans, alumni and students. We’ll be adding to this list over time, so please check back. Following that list, we are providing links to professional resources for journalists covering protests as well as recent webinars and Columbia forums.

In the coming days and weeks, we will invite you to events and forums to discuss how to address racial inequality in journalism and the institutions that support it, including ours. We invite all of the J-School community — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — to this conversation. We are committed to taking action at the J-School that will foster change.



Additional Resources

Safety tips for covering protests from Committee to Protect Journalists

Covering Protests Webinar with Prof. Judith Matloff


Upcoming Events 

The New Journalism: Rethinking the News in the Wake of COVID and George Floyd, sponsored by the Columbia Journalism Review. (Date to be announced).  


Past Events

Black Lives Matter, Protest, and Creating Change, hosted by the Office of University Life and moderated by the Journalism School’s Prof. Jelani Cobb, director of the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, which promotes research and reporting on race, diversity, civil and human rights.