News | Administration

Veteran journalist to take over as J-school dean of academic affairs

  • Yue Ben / Senior Staff Photographer
    TAKING OVER | Sheila Coronel will replace Bill Grueskin as the Journalism School's dean of academic affairs at the end of the semester. Grueskin said Coronel was "at the top of everyone's list."

Sheila Coronel will take over as dean of academic affairs at the Journalism School when Bill Grueskin, who has held the post since 2008, steps down at the end of the semester.

Grueskin, who was considered by many faculty members a favorite for the dean position that eventually went to Steve Coll last March, said that he was satisfied with the appointment of veteran journalist Coronel, director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism since 2006.

“I’m really happy that Sheila Coronel is succeeding me,” Grueskin told Spectator last week. “She’s a really talented journalist in her own right and has done some courageous reporting in the Philippines. She has a global stature in the world of journalism.”

Grueskin, a former managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, said that he wanted to take a step back from his administrative post to focus on his journalism career, though he’ll remain a full-time professor of professional practice at the school. 

“I made it clear to Steve [Coll] that I’d be stepping down at the end of the year,” Grueskin said. “I wanted to keep the team together over that time to oversee and resolve any problems.”

During his tenure, Grueskin oversaw an overhaul of the J-school curriculum, shifting the school towards a more digital focus to better prepare students for today’s journalism industry.

“Dean Grueskin has led a monumental, historic effort to change the way we teach journalism here,” Coronel said. “I hope to build on these changes. There’s still plenty of work to be done.”

“We need to be on top of changes in the industry, and create a flexible student body that are better prepared for the world they will enter upon graduation,” Coronel added.

She cited the task of diversifying the education at the J-school as a priority once she becomes dean, highlighting the valuable perspectives that international students contribute to the school.

“Our school is increasingly international—30 to 35 percent and rising—so we need to reflect that reality,” Coronel said. “International students also bring different experiences that enrich the experience for everyone involved. Wherever you are, journalism needs to be global because the audience is global.”

Coronel covered politics and government in the Philippines as a stringer for the New York Times and the Guardian. In 1989, Coronel co-founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, which produces articles on social and political issues in the Philippines and trains journalists in investigative reporting. 

Coronel describes herself as a witness to a period of great revolutionary change, having reported on human rights abuses, corruption, and government misconduct.

“Journalists in the Philippines—even today—are killed for their investigation of corruption and reporting on crime,” Coronel said.

Coronel expressed optimism about her new position, but said that she’s fully aware of the challenge that the school faces to continuously adapt to the changing media landscape.

Grueskin, who taught a course with Coronel at the J-school, said that his successor’s qualifications made her the perfect choice for the position.

“It’s been a peaceful transition—she was at the top of everyone’s list,” Grueskin added.

asif.shah@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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What perhaps should also be fully disclosed is that the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy [NED] has provided the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism that Columbia University J-School Dean of Academic Affairs Coronel founded with over $100,000 in grant money since 2010. And according to to a 2003 article by “Inside The Company” author Philip Agee that appeared in the Summer-Fall 2003 issue of the “Socialism and Democracy” academic journal:

“In November 1983…Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy and gave it an initial $18.8 million for building civil society abroad during the fiscal year ending September 30, 1984…Whereas the CIA had previously funneled money through a complex network of `conduits,’ the NED would now become a `mega-conduit’ for getting U.S. government money to the same array of non-governmental organizations that the CIA had been funding secretly.

“…The NED…gives money directly to `groups abroad who are working for human rights, independent media, the rule of law, and a wide range of civil society initiatives.’ [Quoted from NED website May 2003]

“The NED’s non-governmental status provides the fiction that recipients of NED money are getting `private’ rather than U.S. government money…”

In an August 18, 2000 lecture at the University of Philippines-Manila, Manila Studies Program Coordinator Roland G. Simbulan also made the following references to the National Endowment for Democracy that has funded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism that J-School Dean Coronel co-founded:

“…It is important to expose US imperialism’s clandestine apparatus in the Philippines... Doing covert action that undermines Philippine national sovereignty and genuine democracy in order to prop up the tiny pro-US oligarchical minority that has cornered most of the wealth in their poor country is what the CIA is all about and is the real reason for its existence…. CIA operative David Sternberg fronted as a foreign correspondent for an American newspaper based in Boston, the Christian Science Monitor, when he assisted Gabriel Kaplan in managing the presidential campaign of Ramon Magsaysay in the ’50s….

“The CIA has long utilized in the Philippines sophisticated or subtle means for clandestine propaganda, such as the manipulation of trade unions and cultural organizations, rather than heavy-handed activities such as paramilitary operations, political assassinations and coups as they had done extensively in Africa, Latin America and Vietnam. During my interview in 1996 with Ralph McGehee, a former CIA agent, and other former CIA operatives assigned to the Manila station, I was told that the CIA had many unheralded successes in the Philippines such as the manipulation of the trade union movement through the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) and through funds which were channeled thru the USAID, Asia Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy.

“In a recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, American sociologist James Petras describes how progressive non-government organizations can be neutralized, if not coopted, thru US government, big business-backed funding agencies or CIA fronts and conduits masquerading as foundations...While using the language of the Left such as `people empowerment,’ `gender equality,’ `sustainable development’ etc., these NGOs funded by USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Asia Foundation, etc. have become linked to a framework of collaboration with donors and even with government agencies with whom they have partnerships that subordinate activity to nonconfrontational politics, rather than militant mass mobilization. (Petras, 1999)

“…Thus, grants are generously poured in by such agencies like USAID, NED, Asia Foundation and the big business-sponsored Ford Foundation. The objective is to constantly lure and lull the masses into the elite-dominated electoral process, thus legitimizing the neo-liberal economic system and its political apparatus, producing a fragile social peace and a “peaceful” mechanism for competition among the Filipino elite and oligarchy….

“One of the most critical moments of the CIA station in Manila was the immediate post-Marcos years when they tried to dissociate US links with the Marcoses and politically influence the contours of the post-Marcos era. Financial, technical and political support for the pro-US “agents of influence” assured the dominance of pro-US local elites and institutions as a counterweight to the progressive anti-imperialist, anti-Marcos forces that threatened to define and restructure the architecture of the post-Marcos neo-colonial regime.

“…USAID was directed to grant the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) with a generous financing so it could formulate a position paper on an economic program anchored on `the partnership between labor and capital.'… The CIA and US military advisers also wanted a deeper role in the design and command of counterinsurgency. These funds were supplemented by the so-called “democracy promotion” initiatives of the NED which poured in heavy funding for TUCP, Namfrel, the Women’s Movement for the Nurturing of Democracy (KABATID) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). The NED gave a total of $9 million from 1984-1990 to these institutions and organizations….

“…Between 1987-1990, Washington reportedly authorized stepped-up clandestine CIA operations against the Left in the Philippines...There was also an increase in the number of CIA personnel, from 115 to 127, mostly attached as `diplomats' to the US embassy in Manila. (Oltman and Bernstein, 1992)…”

According to William Blum’s “Rogue State” book, the “NED also mounted a multi-level campaign to fight the leftist insurgency in the Philippines in the mid-1980s, funding a host of private organizations, including unions and the media” and “this was a replica of a typical CIA operation of pre-NED days.”

In addition to Columbia J-School Dean Coronel’s historic apparent NED connections, in recent years Columbia University Professor Andrew Nathan has apparently been sitting on an NED board (that has also included former Bush Administration Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq Zalmay Khalizad). So it’s probably unlikely that the Columbia University School of Journalism administration is going to encourage their students and faculty members to do much investigative reporting in 2014 that critically examines the relationship between the CIA and the NED historically or currently .

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