Event Recap: 2023 Graduation and Journalism Day

May 24, 2023

Congratulations once again to the Columbia Journalism School Class of 2023. Journalism Day and Commencement alike were days filled with joy, excitement and Columbia blue skies.

The ceremonies also featured inspiring words from our speakers and award winners. You can find recordings of those heartening speeches here, as well as the full 2023 graduation ceremony featuring a keynote by Columbia Journalism Award winner Christiane Amanpour.

Graduation Ceremony Featuring Keynote by Christiane Amanpour

Each year, the Dean presents the Columbia Journalism Award, the highest award bestowed by Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. The 2023 recipient was Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Anchor for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour and Amanpour & Co. on PBS. Amanpour was recognized by the faculty for her “capacious accomplishment and distinguished service to journalism.” Amanpour also delivered the ceremony’s keynote speech, in which she underlined the importance of our new alumni's place in the industry: “We need to seek to provide and defend the truth.”

Journalism Day: Pringle Lecture by Dahlia Lithwick

Dahlia Lithwick was selected as the 2023 Pringle Lecturer, delivering her remarks during the Journalism Day ceremony on May 16, 2023.

Named for Henry F. Pringle, a professor of the 1930s Columbia Journalism School, the award is given annually by faculty to an outstanding journalist covering politics — and whose work and values will inspire the next generation of professionals. A Senior Editor at Slate, Lithwick has been writing the Supreme Court dispatches and jurisprudence columns since 1999.

She offered incomparable encouragement to our Class of 2023: “Yours is a generation I admire more than I can possibly say, because you don't join stuff and you certainly don't answer your landline when the pollsters call. But boy, oh boy, do you get things done — and you have vast, capacious hearts and you see potential where sometimes those of us who are a generation or two ahead of you see only disaster.”

Journalism Day: 2019 Berger and Tobenkin Award Winners

The 2023 Meyer “Mike” Berger Award was awarded to Lynzy Billing, a reporter with ProPublica, for her outstanding investigative series “The Night Raids.” Her work uncovered details behind CIA-directed death squads called “Zero Units” in Afghanistan. Often raids were based on staggeringly flawed intelligence and resulted in scores of executions of those with no connection to the Taliban. For over three years — working solo for most of them — Billing showcased diligent, detailed shoe-leather reporting across dangerous swaths of Afghanistan. 

Named for the late New York Times reporter Meyer “Mike” Berger, the Berger Award is awarded to a reporter for an outstanding example of in­-depth, human interest reporting.

Yvette Cabrera, a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, won the 2023 Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for her investigation of the devastating effects of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Published with ICT, formerly Indian Country Today, Cabrera’s investigation featured Earl Tulley, a Navajo activist who tried to hold the government accountable for the multitude of cancers and deaths in his community caused by the toxic waste. When Tulley discovered during the reporting that he himself had an aggressive form of cancer linked to radiation exposure, he became the centerpiece of the narrative. 

The Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award honors the late New York Herald Tribune reporter and recognizes outstanding achievements in reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States.

Read more: Announcing the 2023 Winners of the Mike Berger Award & the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award

Launch of Loan Repayment Assistance Program during Graduation Ceremony

Dean Jelani Cobb also encouraged our 2023 graduating class with the announcement of a new Loan Repayment Assistance Program. This pilot program is launched to assist graduates working in nonprofit news media organizations — and allow students to pursue their goal of working for the public good while mitigating the burden of educational debt.

Read more: Columbia Journalism School to offer educational loan repayment assistance for recent graduates with inaugural program