CJR’s New Board of Overseers

A new group to help set strategy and locate resources

The Columbia Journalism Review, which will enter its fiftieth year in 2011, has formed a Board of Overseers to help it remain a force for strong journalism for the next fifty years. The board will help CJR shape its strategy and locate resources to ensure a vibrant future.

The chairman of the Board of Overseers is Neil Barsky, a 1984 graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, who went on to manage the hedge fund Alson Capital Partners from 2002 to 2009.

“We have assembled a first-rate group of professionals from the fields of journalism, law, technology, and business,” said Barsky. “The board is bound by its commitment to help CJR expand its efforts as it confronts the myriad political, technological, and financial challenges and opportunities confronting journalism globally.”

The other members of the board, so far, include: Nathan S. Collier, principal and chairman of the Collier Companies, a Florida-based property manager and owner; Cathleen Collins, an attorney specializing in intellectual property rights; Joan Konner, Dean Emerita and Professor Emerita of Columbia’s J-school, and a former CJR publisher; Kenneth Lerer, manager of Lerer Ventures and co-founder of The Huffington Post; William Lilley III, chairman and founder of iMapData, a Washington-based company specializing in geo-spatial display and analysis of economic, business, demographic, and other data; Jim Ottaway, Jr., former senior vice president and member of the board of Dow Jones & Co., and former chairman of Ottway Newspapers Inc.; David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief, Reuters News, Thomson Reuters; and Herbert “Pug” Winokur, Jr. chairman and CEO of Capricorn Investors, LP. All are financial contributors to CJR as well.

In addition, four members of the faculty of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism are non-donor board members. They are Emily Bell, director of the school’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism; Sheila Cornonel, director of the school’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism; Howard W. French, author and former New York Times foreign correspondent; and Michael Schudson, author of six books and editor of two others on the history and sociology of American news media and popular culture. CJR’s vice chairman, Peter Osnos, and its chairman, Victor Navasky, are also board members. Osnos, a former foreign editor of The Washington Post, is founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs Books; Navasky is an author, publisher emeritus of The Nation, and director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia’s J-school.

“The Board of Overseers will help in shaping the strategic direction of CJR,” said Navasky. “On the business side, it will help with fund-raising and putting its expertise, ideas, and, where appropriate, contacts at the behest of CJR; and on the editorial side, within CJR’s fifty-year tradition of editorial independence, will offer advice and ideas for deepening and strengthening its ability to fulfill its mission.” Navasky noted that members of the board “have been put on notice that when and they or their organizations are critiqued or otherwise covered by CJR they will receive no favorable treatment either by way of advance notice or post hoc handling of their letters of complaint.”

In August, CJR hired its first full-time publisher, Cathryn Cronin Cranston, former publisher of the Harvard Business Review. It expects to hire a director of development soon, as well.

“Journalism reviews are not the most lucrative enterprises around,” said Mike Hoyt, CJR’s editor. “The Columbia Journalism Review has broken even for four years straight, even as we work to raise the level of our game. That has not been easy, and now we’re grateful for Cathy Cranston’s business direction and for this board’s support and advice. We are moving through a period in which journalism faces immense challenges, and a healthy, vibrant CJR is a good idea.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.