Journalist Azmat Khan to Join Columbia Journalism Faculty and Lead New Center for Global Journalism

August 27, 2021

Azmat Khan, an award-winning investigative journalist whose work has shown the brutal impact of war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and exposed failures in U.S. military efforts in these countries, has joined Columbia Journalism School as the Patti Cadby Birch Assistant Professor of Journalism and as the inaugural Director of the newly established Simon and June Li Center for Global Journalism. The Center will support a range of activities and opportunities for students and alumni of the school, including fellowships, scholarships for international students and curricular activities that will help enhance the school’s global perspective. It will also present programs about global journalism to the profession and the public. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Azmat Khan to this important new role at the school,” said Steve Coll, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism at the School. “Khan's extraordinary investigative and narrative journalism from Iraq and Afghanistan is inspiring. She is a committed, impactful teacher in the classroom and has exciting ideas about how the new Li Center can support our students and influence international journalism more broadly.”  

A New York Times Magazine Contributing Writer and a Carnegie Fellow, Khan has taught conflict reporting as a visiting professor at Columbia Journalism School and other schools. She has won numerous awards, including the 2018 National Magazine Award for Reporting for her New York Times Magazine investigation on U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. It uncovered that one in five strikes resulted in civilian death, a rate 31 times greater than acknowledged by the coalition. The story resulted in action by Congress to better account for civilian casualties in U.S. military operations. Her 2015 investigation for Buzzfeed News showed that U.S-touted achievements in boosting education in war-torn Afghanistan were grossly exaggerated. It won the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting on South Asia and the Deadline Club Award for Independent Digital Reporting, and it was recognized as a Livingston Award finalist in International Reporting. Khan is a Vice President of the Overseas Press Club's Board of Governors, where she chairs a committee on supporting freelancers, and the co-founder of the Gumshoe Group, which supports freelance journalists pursuing public records-related investigations. She has also been a strong voice in shaping the discourse around the journalism industry's responsibilities to local journalists, particularly Afghans who worked for U.S. media outlets.

“Columbia Journalism School has long shaped the ethics and standards of our industry, and I could not be more excited to be here in this role amidst the changing landscape of international reporting,” Khan said. “I am honored to be joining the faculty and developing the Simon and June Li Center into the leading international reporting program in the United States.”

The named professorship is made possible by the generosity of the Everett B. and Patti Birch Foundation. The Center was established through a generous gift from founders Simon (J’70) and June Li, longtime supporters of scholarships at Columbia Journalism School, including those for students from outside of the United States.