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From the Director of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association

Welcome to the new home of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) online. We’ve updated our web presence so that we can better serve our students and advisers, which will further enable us to continue our mission of supporting scholastic journalism.

We hope that you will find our site easy to navigate as we work on making improvements for our audience. You may have noticed that the CSPA site has now been integrated into the new Columbia Pre-College Program website. As CSPA is part of the Columbia University Pre-College Program, having a shared web platform will allow CSPA to expand its online offerings and simultaneously reach a larger audience. 

In 2025, the CSPA will celebrate an incredible milestone: its centennial. Almost 100 years on, and our work remains as critical as ever. Providing excellence in journalism education for student journalists and their advisers is supportive of a future free press and a healthy democracy.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects free speech and the freedom of the press—foundational to democracy and preserving the will of the people. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Tying this concept to scholastic journalism, training our future journalists is imperative to the well-being of the nation. 

We are in a political environment in which some states are banning books and seek to curtail press freedoms as well. This is at odds with the health of our society. In 2022, the American Bar Association released a report on student journalism and civic education. Its findings were telling. “Diminishing opportunities for students to gather and share news in an environment that offers training and guidance should be a matter of civic urgency.” 

The report also states that in many cases student journalists are fulfilling the task of what community newsrooms used to do. This year, college newspapers have produced investigations that got the head football coach at Northwestern fired, forced the resignation of the president of Stanford University, and at UNC-Chapel Hill, the chilling front page of The Daily Tar Heel documented the fearful texts students sent during an active shooter lockdown. Interviewed by the Associated Press, the student editor-in-chief who conceived the front page, Emmy Martin, said, “The experience reminded me of how journalism matters in more ways than just getting information to the public.”

Journalism does indeed matter. The entire team at CSPA is dedicated to the mission of training our future journalists. The association has continued its important work thanks to the financial support of an endowment from the second director of the CSPA, Charles R. O’Malley; from a scholarship fund set up by its first director, Col. Joseph M. Murphy—and as well from the generosity of donors, such as the Reckson Foundation, and the Dow Jones News Fund. CSPA thanks them for their continued support of this organization–and of our young journalists.

Jennifer Bensko Ha
Director, Columbia Scholastic Press Association
Columbia University
New York, NY

The experience reminded me of how journalism matters in more ways than just getting information to the public.” —Emmy Martin, Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Tarheel