With $3M More in Knight Funding, Tow Center Looks Toward Data, Computational Journalism

    by Desiree Everts
    January 14, 2015
    Students show off digital journalism projects at the Innovation Showcase, hosted by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Photo by Rebecca Castillo

    The rise of the data journalist and computational journalism is an unstoppable trend — and one that we’ve written about before on PBS MediaShift and Idea Lab. (See our special series about teaching data journalism and how to help journalism programs explore computational thinking.)  Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism has been on the forefront of examining that trend and how it can help newsrooms and educators strengthen journalism.tow_logo

    To that end, it has announced it has secured $3 million in additional funding from the Knight Foundation to expand its efforts in digital journalism. The funding will extend Knight’s earlier contribution to the program for another three years. Previous Tow-Knight projects have run the gamut from changes in newsroom architectural design to the use of drones and sensors. With the new funding, Tow hopes to build on that tech focus to look at how it can shape the future of journalism.

    "The overall goal is to strengthen journalism within a rapidly evolving information ecosystem." -Emily Bell

    “The purpose of this is to aid the profession in experimentation with and adaptation of new technologies, and to inform the practice and teaching of journalism. The overall goal is to strengthen journalism within a rapidly evolving information ecosystem,” Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center, said in a statement.


    experimental journalism, data and more

    Tow says part of the funding will go towards recruiting fellows to focus on four areas:

    1. Computation, Algorithms and Automated Journalism will explore ways to bring computer science into the practice of journalism and look at the benefits and challenges that automated reporting tools, large-scale data and impact evaluation metrics, among other solutions, can bring to the- newsroom.
    2. Data, Impact and Metrics will extend the work of Al Jazeera data journalist Michael Keller and metrics specialist Brian Abelson who are using technology tools and data to explore which stories have impact and ways to reproduce these effects.
    3. Audiences and Engagement will study the new relationship between the journalist and the audience, examining the impact and new demands that social media, participatory journalism, crowdsourcing and other developments, are creating in the field.
    4. Experimental Journalism, Models and Practice will develop field experiments with journalists around themes such as the influence of philanthropy on news startups; surveillance technologies used by and against journalists; applying game design techniques in newsrooms; and gender balance and diversity in journalism.

    The Tow Center will be recruiting new research fellows starting this month. So if you want to be a part of its efforts, check out towcenter.org or email [email protected] for more information on application guidelines.

    Desiree Everts is the associate editor for Idea Lab and PBS MediaShift. She’s dabbled in digital media for the past decade including stints at CNET News and Wired magazine.

    Tagged: columbia journalism school digital journalism funding knight foundation tow center

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