Jon Allsop, Columbia Journalism Review

Jon Allsop

Columbia Journalism Review

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Past articles by Jon:

A rail disaster spurs a media reckoning

Two weeks ago, a passenger train and a freight train collided on the line between Athens and Thessaloniki, in Greece. Several carriages of the passenger train derailed; some caught fire. At least fifty-seven people were killed, many of them students returning home from seasonal festivities in Athens. Initially, senior Greek politicians attributed the crash primarily […] → Read More

The implosion at the BBC, and the transatlantic debate about journalistic objectivity

Last week, Britain’s Conservative government proposed a bill clamping down on migrants, including asylum seekers, who cross from mainland Europe by boat. Among the bill’s critics: the United Nations, whose refugee agency accused the UK of “extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection.” Also among the critics: Gary Lineker, a one-time England soccer star turned […] → Read More

The transatlantic troubles in coverage of missing people

“MUMMY’S LOST.” “WHERE THE HELL IS OUR NICOLA?” “NICOLA: RIDDLE OF LOST DOG BALL.” “NICOLA: RIDDLE OF TWO MEN.” “NICOLA COPS SEARCH SEA.” “Someone local knows something.” “NICOLA: STAINED GLOVE FOUND.” “DON’T BE AFRAID NIKKI… COME HOME.” “NICOLA: IT’S HEARTBREAK.” These were all recent front-page headlines in one British tabloid, The Sun, about Nicola Bulley, […] → Read More

2024 coverage is shaping up to be the same as always

Last week, the political press turned to a familiar yearly ritual: covering the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. This year’s edition took place under multiple clouds—Matt Schlapp, the event’s top organizer, is facing an allegation of groping (which he denies); more broadly, a media narrative has formed that the event has degenerated from a […] → Read More

As US-China rivalry heats up in the Pacific Islands, the press gets stuck in the middle

Earlier this month—on the same day that officials went public about a Chinese spy balloon flying over the US, triggering weeks of media coverage—the US officially opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago nation in the southern Pacific. The embassy was itself a response to increasingly “bold moves” from China in the Pacific […] → Read More

The empty politicization of the East Palestine disaster

On February 3, a freight train with hazardous materials on board came off the tracks in East Palestine, Ohio, leading to a massive fire with plumes of black smoke, an evacuation order, and fears about the impact on the environment and public health. The derailment was not initially a big national news story, garnering scant […] → Read More

The concentric circles of press threats in America

Last month, Seth Stern, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote an op-ed for the Asheville Citizen-Times, in North Carolina, raising the alarm about an imminent trial in the city that had mostly slipped under the radar of the national press: that of Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss, two reporters with the Asheville Blade, […] → Read More

Q&A: Jem Bartholomew on Britain’s ‘cost of living crisis’ and the press

The high cost of essential goods and services is a major story in many countries right now, but each country’s press covers it in their own way. In the UK, what has come to be known, ubiquitously, as the “cost of living crisis” has become a dominant storyline right across the country’s notoriously partisan and […] → Read More

Around the world in (at least) eight court cases involving Pegasus and the press

A year ago this week, I wrote in this newsletter about a story that had recently appeared in Calcalist, a business newspaper in Israel. The story alleged that police in the country used Pegasus—a highly invasive, and terrifyingly discreet, spyware tool made by NSO Group, an Israeli firm—to warrantlessly surveil the cellphones of political figures […] → Read More

The Uncertainty Files

After The Balloon, The UFOs. (Or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” if you prefer.) Since Friday, US officials—in conjunction, on one occasion, with their Canadian counterparts—have ordered the shootdown of objects that appeared in the skies over Alaska, northern Canada, and Michigan, just days after US planes also shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that had traversed […] → Read More

Overclassification, the Finnish way

In December 2017, Laura Halminen, a journalist at Helsingin Sanomat, a major newspaper in Finland, destroyed her laptop. Finnish law enforcement had just launched an investigation into an article that listed Halminen as an author, and she wanted to protect her sources and unfinished work—not least a story about Finnish law enforcement—from a possible search […] → Read More

The unbearable lightness of the Balloon coverage

“Are Twitter’s birthday balloons broken?” “Weather grounds balloons Sunday morning, 2023 Hudson Hot Air Affair still a success.” “Release of balloons would be banned under new Florida bill.” Across the US, various balloons have been in the news in recent days, cropping up in stories about, for instance, the perceived mirthlessness of Elon Musk and […] → Read More

The WHO trains journalists to cover car crashes better. Should the US government?

A few weeks ago, journalists from India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Malaysia gathered in Kuala Lumpur for an event put on by the World Health Organization. They were there to receive training to better cover a global public-health crisis that often flies under the radar of the world’s media: road deaths. Among other pointers, the journalists […] → Read More

The would-be president and the press (that he owns)

Last September, Andrej Babiš, the former prime minister of the Czech Republic, appeared on the front pages of two major newspapers in that country. This was not in itself unusual—Babiš was about to stand trial on charges that he had fraudulently claimed European Union business subsidies (he was later acquitted)—but the front pages didn’t feature […] → Read More

Covering the new Congress

What links the Republican Reps. Scott Perry, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene (beyond, in the case of the latter two, a buzzy recent Daily Beast story about a bathroom shouting match)? All voted to overturn President Biden’s win in the 2020 election, and worse besides. And, as of last week, all sit […] → Read More

Q&A: Margaret Sullivan on the coverage of Biden’s documents

Since last week, the discovery of a batch of classified documents at an office used by Joe Biden between his spells as vice president and president—and then of further batches at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware—has driven a frenzied political news cycle. Comparisons to Donald Trump, embroiled in a classified-records scandal of his own since […] → Read More

The State Department says ‘Turkey’ is ‘Türkiye’ now. What does the press say?

When you hear the word “turkey,” what comes to mind first: the country or the bird? The fear that it might be the bird is one of a number of reasons why the country—well, its government anyway—has pushed in recent years for the international community to start referring to Turkey using the Turkish spelling of […] → Read More

Bob Woodward’s different world

In 2020, whenever the phone rang in the home of Bob Woodward, the venerated political reporter, he would wonder whether it was a robocall or the then-president of the United States. Often, it was the latter. Sometimes, Elsa Walsh, the former Washington Post and New Yorker journalist to whom Woodward is married, would get to […] → Read More

Not up for debate

On Friday, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat defending a competitive US House seat in Virginia, and Yesli Vega, her Republican opponent, did not meet for a debate. They were supposed to, but the plan “started to crumble,” the Washington Post’s Meagan Flynn reported, after Spanberger objected to the appointment, as a co-moderator, of Larry O’Connor, […] → Read More

Agronomy in the UK

Ten days ago, with Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, in the process of tanking the country’s economy, The Economist laid into her with a scathing editorial headlined “The Iceberg Lady.” Putting aside the ten days of official mourning that followed the death of the queen, Truss was “in control” for just seven days before […] → Read More