Sewell Chan Named Editor of Columbia Journalism Review


Sewell Chan, the editor in chief of The Texas Tribune, will become the next executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review.

Mr. Chan, 46, has helmed The Tribune, a pioneering nonprofit newsroom, since October 2021. He will join CJR on Sept. 16, the publication announced on Thursday.

CJR, which covers the media industry, has been published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 1961. It now prints two magazines a year and runs a digital operation.

“It’s always been an intellectual leader in our field, especially on news ethics and decision-making,” Mr. Chan told The New York Times. “I want CJR to be a voice for working journalists who face existential challenges — from hedge fund owners to authoritarian leaders to online harassment — and to explain to the public why fact-based news is more important than ever.”

Mr. Chan fills a role left open by Kyle Pope, who was CJR’s editor from 2016 to 2023.

Jelani Cobb, the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, said in an interview that Mr. Chan was “one of the smartest people I know in journalism and publishing right now.”

“We both had a sense that CJR really has to be more of a place where the problems that we’re confronting in journalism get worked on, the things that we’re trying to address,” Dean Cobb said.

“We’ve needed a forum like this more — the questions that we have are beyond pressing,” he added.

Mr. Chan has been on the board of CJR since 2021. He was formerly the editorial page editor at The Los Angeles Times and a reporter and editor at The New York Times.

During Mr. Chan’s tenure at The Tribune, the outlet was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and shared a National Magazine Award for its coverage of the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But last year it also went through its first round of layoffs since it was founded in 2009, citing a tough economic environment.

In a note to staff on Thursday, The Tribune’s chief executive, Sonal Shah, said Matthew Watkins, a managing editor, would become editor in chief when Mr. Chan departed.

“Matthew is the perfect leader for The Texas Tribune’s next chapter,” Ms. Shah said in the memo, which was viewed by The New York Times. “He has earned the trust of our journalists, as well as his colleagues across the organization, and understands the stories that Texans need to hear about their state.”

Ms. Shah added: “During Sewell’s tenure, The Tribune’s newsroom has become more representative of our diverse state. Sewell has also been a powerful voice for journalism.”



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