New publishing imprint to tackle underreported global issues

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Columbia Global Reports, a new publishing imprint devoted to short book-length reporting projects, will release its first three titles this fall. They are Bethany McLean’s Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants, about the threat that Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s lending practices still pose to the global financial system; Clay Shirky’s Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream, on China’s attempts to become a tech innovator; and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian’s The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen, which investigates the increasingly common practice of nations’ selling citizenship rights to foreigners. The books, which blend reportage, scholarly analysis, and narrative storytelling, are intended for popular audiences.

“Our books offer new ways to look at and understand the world, and can be read in a few hours,” says former Columbia journalism dean Nicholas Lemann, who is directing Columbia Global Reports. “Most readers are curious and busy. Our books are for them.”

Bethany McLean, a journalist known for her investigative reports on the Enron scandal and the 2008 financial crisis. / GETTY / Dustin Finkelstein

President Lee C. Bollinger, in announcing the creation of the imprint last year, said it is intended to address a growing need for serious reporting on international issues.

“Journalism and universities — each at their best — are soulmates in the search for new knowledge,” he said. “Around the world, we see a dual challenge to the robust reporting we need to understand our interconnected society: on the one hand, there’s widespread censorship of free and independent media. And there’s also the declining financial capacity of the news business to invest in costly, time-consuming, high-quality reporting at the very moment when we as citizens need more such in-depth coverage of the world. Universities are uniquely positioned to help fill the gap, and none more so than Columbia.” 

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