Editor’s Notebook: Great Possibilities

A new publisher’s arrival prompts a fresh case of optimism

My co-pilot at this magazine, Brent Cunningham, CJR’s managing editor/print, has a slightly darker view of this world than my own, and often accuses me of being an optimist. (Philosophical aside: Can a New York Mets fan truly be considered an optimist?) When it comes to CJR, I plead guilty as charged. We live inside a great university but its walls do not shelter us from the economic weather. On that front we’re on our own, just like everyone else. Still, despite ferocious storms lately, we’re okay. We have ended the fiscal year in the black four years running, even as we heighten our editorial ambitions. This is thanks to the dedication of Dennis Giza, CJR’s deputy publisher, who with wisdom and patience keeps many errant ducks in a row; of Janine Jaquet, who brought imagination and lots of high-heel shoe leather to fundraising for CJR (Janine is elevating to the seventh floor, where she’ll do the same for the Graduate School of Journalism); and of our chairman, Victor Navasky, who, with his graceful touch, keeps the enterprise steadily moving forward, with the help of his consigliere, Peter Osnos. I cannot say that the budget process each year has been unlike the Perils of Pauline, but we have not been distracted from CJR’s mission.

I’m suffering from a fresh case of optimism now because we have a new member of the team, Cathryn Cranston, the first full-time CJR publisher in our memory. This is good news for us, and for CJR readers online and in print. She speaks digital, she understands advertising, she thinks big, and she loves journalism. She led the Harvard Business Review from 2002 to 2006, raising its revenue 27 percent and, it says here, “repositioned the brand as a global thought leader.” That has an awfully nice ring to it.

Cranston sees great possibilities for extending the reach and the impact of the Columbia Journalism Review, as do the rest of us. CJR is nearly fifty years old, and we can’t think of a time when what we do seemed more significant. So, welcome, Cathy. We’re glad you’re here. Let’s get to work.

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Mike Hoyt was CJR's executive editor from 2001 to 2013, teaches at Columbia's Journalism School and is the editor of The Big Roundtable, a startup that is a home for narrative writing.