Investigative journalist leads
new J-school center

Sheila Coronel
Sheila Coronel, a Filipino journalist well known in her country for cracking high-profile stories on political malfeasance, joins Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism this semester to lead a new investigative-reporting center. Coronel, 48, is the first director of the new Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, which teaches graduate journalism students a curriculum of high-tech records research, database and spreadsheet analysis, and other skills necessary to uncover wrongdoing among society’s powerbrokers.

Coronel comes to Columbia having cofounded in 1989 and directed for many years the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which reports in-depth on issues pertaining to the public interest and trains reporters as muckrakers. PCIJ writers have exposed corruption and nepotism in the Philippine Supreme Court, in the president’s cabinet, in government agencies, and even in the country’s newsrooms. In 2003, Coronel received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, an Asian honor for outstanding citizens modeled on the Nobel Prize. The award recognized her center’s exposés on the mansions of former president Joseph Estrada, news that contributed to his ouster in 2001. Coronel’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Britain’s The Guardian, and other Western publications; she has written or edited more than a dozen books.

The new Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism will teach reporters to research stories involving, for example, campaign contributions, corporate governance, tax exemptions, pollution, industrial safety, and child abuse. The center will enroll 15 students annually and award fellowships to the top participants. It is endowed by a $5 million donation from Toni Stabile of Naples, Florida, an investigative journalist and a benefactor to Columbia who also made possible the Columbia University Medical Center’s Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center.