In an effort to better align our resources with our mission, we have decided to significantly boost our investment in Columbia Journalism Review’s digital operations, while shifting the print magazine schedule from bimonthly to two special issues per year.
The print magazine has a revered place in American journalism. For half a century, it was the primary means by which CJR delivered ideas and criticism to its loyal audience. But in the past decade, our print readers have steadily declined while our online audience has ballooned, with visits up 35 percent over last year. Continuing to spend so many resources on print is, regrettably, limiting our ability to invest fully in digital. This strategic shift will allow us to move more forcefully into the realm our readers already inhabit, without abandoning print.
Nothing about our journalistic ambitions will change. We will continue to deliver probing pieces on media institutions and practices—as the watchdog of the watchdogs. We will profile important players in our field, and those who are impacting it. We will strive to be intellectual leaders in the field of journalism and bold advocates of the First Amendment.
A digital-first approach should enable us to reach a broader audience than ever before. As a nonprofit with a mission of influence, this is our foremost goal.
In print, our frequency will decline but our ambitions for each issue will grow. We plan to put out one issue in the Spring and another in the Fall, redirecting resources from a magazine with a limited audience to one with high-concept themes, high-quality design, and a high-impact audience including journalism’s influentials. We’ll aspire for the issues to be objects of a sort, collectables to be lingered over and saved. On occasion, we anticipate that an issue’s release will be accompanied by an event in partnership with the Columbia Journalism School. The first magazine will appear this Spring, and efforts to produce it are already underway. Our current subscribers will be notified soon of what these changes mean for them.
When a publication cuts back on print, it usually triggers dire predictions that another shoe will drop. But there is no other shoe in CJR’s case. Thanks to the dedication of our many supporters, we have growing resources and a revitalized board with prominent leaders pulled from across our industry, including our new chairman, Reuters Editor in Chief Stephen J. Adler. We have new CJR staff members and the unfailing support of an exceptional journalism school and its dean, Steve Coll. These are not the signs of an organization on its heels.
As we move forward, we hope our readers will see that the integrity and quality of our work will be preserved, and our journalistic ambitions will only soar.Elizabeth Spayd is the editor in chief and publisher of CJR.