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Columbia Journalism School Responds to Exxon

December 01, 2015

Please read a letter from Steve Coll, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, here, in response to the Nov. 20 letter from Exxon Mobil to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger.

Statement by Steve Coll, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism

ExxonMobil has recently mounted a publicity campaign attacking the reporting of the Energy and Environment Fellowship Project at our school. I thought it might be helpful to explain the work’s history. The project began early in 2014. The first group of four postgraduate fellows was selected that spring.

Susanne Rust, the project director, joined us from the Center for Investigative Reporting that summer. Susanne is an accomplished investigative journalist with a background in science and a strong record of environmental and public health work.

The plan from the beginning was to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into how major fossil fuel companies carried out and managed internal research about climate change, how this research squared with their public statements and disclosures, and how internal scientific insights into climate change might have figured in the companies' corporate planning and business operations. From the start, the project reporters have investigated these questions at many companies, including but hardly limited to ExxonMobil.

Last July, the team developed a partnership with the Los Angeles Times to publish their initial findings. The Times has maintained full editorial control over everything it has published. The work will continue.  

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