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Special Report: Columbia University

Soros Funds Next Generation of Liberal Journalism

Columbia University helps define the news business. Its School of Journalism is perhaps the foremost institution of its kind in the United States, and its alumni fill the ranks of news organizations. It is also home to the Pulitzer Prize – the top award in the industry. Each May, it graduates a new class and sends a fresh crop of young editors, writers and producers into the field.

Unfortunately, Columbia’s journalism program is not committed to honest journalism. Instead it delivers a one-sided education that celebrates left-wing policies and is overwhelmingly run by liberal journalists, most of whom work for liberal news outlets in addition to their jobs at the school. Sixty-eight percent of the full-time faculty at Columbia University School of Journalism write for explicitly left-wing news outlets. Many of the adjunct faculty and guest lecturers also work for these operations.

Columbia’s Journalism School professors have written for left-wing blogs calling Occupy Wall Street “sweet-tempered,” while bashing the Tea Party as “radicals.” They’ve also authored articles and books attacking Israel for “terrorizing” Gaza, ranted about how the fossil fuel industry’s “extraordinary corporate culture of discipline and secrecy” is destroying the environment, accused Republicans of using racist “code language,” and promoted liberal causes from socialized medicine to gun control to abortion. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has repeatedly argued for massive government funding of journalism.

Columbia has received $9.7 million from left-wing billionaire George Soros, more support than he has given to all but three other schools. Soros is also connected to the newly appointed dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Steve Coll, is currently the head of the New America Foundation, a progressive public policy organization that has received $4.2 million from Soros since 2000.

The influence of Columbia University School of Journalism is substantial. Alumni have gotten jobs at such prominent media outlets as The New York Times, Bloomberg, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. Alumni have also worked at a number of left-wing outlets including Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, NPR and The Nation – the same operations their former professors staff.

The Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute has extensively researched Columbia University School of Journalism, including its faculty, alumni, student publications, funding, guest lecturers, endorsements and awards. BMI found that there was a significant left-wing bias prevalent at the school – a bias that then migrates with its graduates to permeate the daily operations of news organizations across the United States. These results include the following:

  • 68 Percent of the Professors Work for Liberal Outlets: The faculty list of the Columbia University School of Journalism reads like a Who’s Who of liberal organizations. Of the 40 full-time members of the faculty, 27 work at left-wing news outlets and organizations including The Huffington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, Salon, The Nation and Greenpeace. Adjunct faculty work at Al Jazeera, Alternet, The Daily Beast, Salon and The Nation. These professors are also cited as experts by major news outlets, such as The New York Times, ABC, CBS, The Washington Post and USA Today, thanks to their status as Columbia faculty.

  • More than $9.7 Million in Soros Funding: Columbia University has received $9,708,486 from liberal billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. That makes it the third-most Soros-funded school in the world, and the second-most in the U.S. The school also received an additional $1.63 million from the liberal Tides Foundation, which Soros also supports.

  • Soros-funded Liberal Leadership: Incoming dean Steve Coll has his own left-wing rap sheet. Coll, who will take over as dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in July 2013 is currently the president of the New America Foundation, a left-leaning public policy organization which has received more than $4.2 million in Soros funding since 2001. Before working at New America Foundation, Coll was managing editor at The Washington Post.

  • Ties to Terror-Friendly Al Jazeera: Al Jazeera English was awarded more than just the Columbia Award, the highest honor that Columbia could give. It was also granted a fellowship, and allowed to host its show, “Empire,” with a guest panel of full-time Columbia University School of Journalism professors. Al Jazeera employees work as adjunct faculty and guest lecturers, and the journalism school also listed Al Jazeera English and Current TV (which has been bought by Al Jazeera) as potential vendors at its upcoming jobs fair for 2013. Both were in attendance for the 2012 jobs fair. This is the same “news” organization that, in 2008, threw a birthday party for a Lebanese terrorist who had previously killed a police officer, a civilian and a 4-year-old girl.

Recommendations for Journalists

The Business and Media Institute has the following recommendations for journalists writing about Columbia School of Journalism.

  • Extreme Bias Damages Credibility: The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states that journalists should “remain free of associations or activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.” When citing or interviewing a Columbia alumni or faculty member, it is important to be aware of any left-wing connections he or she might have.

  • Do Some Genuine Journalism and Investigate Major Donors: Left-wing billionaires donating millions of dollars to any organization should raise some eyebrows. Since 2000, Soros has given more than $500 million to liberal organizations in the U.S., underwriting almost every major liberal initiative. News outlets need to invest both time and effort to examine these connections.

Recommendations for Columbia University

The Business and Media Institute has the following recommendations for how Columbia can repair its reputation as a premier journalism school.

  • Hire Conservative Professors: The SPJ Code of Ethics states that journalists should “Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.” Twenty-seven of the 40 Columbia University School of Journalism full-time professors work for left-wing publications, while only three work at the moderately conservative Wall Street Journal, and one is a Fox News contributor (who also writes for left-wing outlets). In order to remain balanced, Columbia should hire more neutral and conservative journalists.

  • Refuse to Give a Platform to Those who Support Terrorists: Columbia needs to stop catering to the blatantly pro-terror news network, Al Jazeera. When Columbia University, as one of the foremost schools for journalism in the nation, not only entertains but promotes a blatantly anti-American and pro-terrorist news network, it undermines the nature of journalism.