‘Columbia Journalism Review’ will leave Columbia campus, take Midtown offices

The facade of the Journalism School building. ()
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The Columbia Journalism Review is leaving Morningside Heights.

The bimonthly journal is in the "final stages" of negotiating office space in a building "right off Times Square," said Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia's journalism school, which publishes the magazine.

The reason for the move? C.J.R., which presently has offices on the ground level of the journalism-school building at the university's campus near 116th Street and Broadway, is being displaced by the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, which is to include a $6 million "highly visible signature space" with a "state-of-the-art high-tech newsroom," as described in a January press release, that's being built as part of a gift from the 89-year-old former long-time editor of Cosmopolitan. 

Helen Gurley Brown announced several months ago that she had endowed the Columbia Journalism School and Stanford University’s School of Engineering with a combined $30 million for the establishment of the institute. Her late husband, David, was a graduate of both schools, which will run the institute jointly.

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"We've filled the building, we cannot make everything fit anymore, and it was a condition of getting this gift that the donor wanted that space," said Lemann, speaking on a panel last Friday as part of the journalism school's alumni-weekend programming.

But Lemann assured the few hundred former students in the room that "C.J.R. will have the nicest office it's ever had in its 50 years of existence." He said they "could not find good space closer by," but that the new Times Square digs would occupy a full floor "in a nice building. It's going to be built out to their specs, so they will continue to thrive, but they will not thrive physically, all the time, in this building."

That means writers and editors for C.J.R. and its daily website will soon find themselves within spitting distance of some of the many news outlets to which they play watchdog: The New York Times, The New Yorker and Reuters, for instance; CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism is also right nearby.

Reached via email Monday afternoon, Lemann declined to discuss the timeline for the move since a lease has not yet been signed.

As for the state of C.J.R., which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as the Columbia Journalism School rings in its 100th, Lemann said the creation of a full-time fund-raising office for the publication had "made a really significant difference in increasing the total budget of the magazine." Fundraising is C.J.R.'s biggest source of income. But the magazine is on the lookout for a publisher, too. They'd hired one in 2010, Cathryn Cranston, but she received a terminal cancer diagnosis on her first day of work. She died on May 31, 2011.

"We haven't found just the right person to go into that job, but I'd be glad to find someone to do it, because we're supposed to have as much firepower on the earned income side as on the given income side," said Lemann.