Effectively flagging abusive content on social media is hard, but journalists can share their insights — and their data — to improve computational tools.

By Susan E. McGregor

On April 9, 2021, women Twitter users from a range of professions — including law, journalism, academia and advertising, to name a few — participated in a one day boycott to bring attention to the abuse that women regularly experience on the platform. According to a 2018 Amnesty International report highlighted by participant and startup lawyer Moe Odele, in fact, a woman is abused on Twitter every 30 seconds.

Women journalists reading…

By Susan E. McGregor

On March 12, jurors acquitted Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri of two misdemeanor criminal charges: “failure to disperse” and “interference with official acts.” Sahouri was arrested on May 31, 2020, while she was covering protests following the killing of George Floyd by police, during a week in which more reporters were arrested in the US than during the previous three years combined. While the charges against most of those reporters were dropped, Sahouri was the first reporter to stand trial on criminal charges in the US since 2018. (Disclosure: the author, a former Columbia Journalism…

By Ishaan Jhaveri

At the Save America Rally on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., a white flag printed with a bright green pine tree, reading the words, “An Appeal to Heaven,” flew alongside popular right-wing flags. In the crowds of thousands, flags such the yellow Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) and the Revolutionary War-era Betsy Ross flag (a symbol that has been used in racist contexts) stood out amidst scores of Trump 2020 and traditional American flags.

Source: Nina Berman

But the Pine Tree flag had particular significance at the Capitol riots. According to the book, “The American Flag: An Encyclopedia of the…

By Sara Sheridan

In early January, in collaboration with the Tow Center, the Arizona Daily Star’s digital-only, community news vertical #ThisIsTucson released a report outlining the work that went into creating its membership program. The program, which launched right as the coronavirus pandemic decimated local news across the country, has been a unique success story from a year rife with cutbacks, closures and crises. The full report can be found here. We talked with the two journalists who spearheaded the project at the Star and who authored the report, Irene McKisson and Becky Pallack, about what it was like to…

By Sara Sheridan

Last week, the world watched as a violent mob of protestors overtook law enforcement and attempted to stop the certification of votes for the incoming President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Constitutionally mandated ceremony is usually an uneventful one. Instead, thousands of President Trump’s supporters — amped up by a speech he gave early Wednesday morning in which he continued to spread baseless allegations of voter fraud and electioneering — descended upon the Capitol.

The mob rushed through the halls as Members of Congress and journalists were whisked into hiding by an ill-equipped…

By Ishaan Jhaveri

On October 24, a Trump rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, featured a very noticeable backdrop: flying prominently behind the President as he addressed thousands of supporters was not the American flag, but the black, white and blue “Thin Blue Line” flag, a symbol of the pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement.

Trump waving at supporters at a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 24th, 2020 (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Marshall Project, “Those who fly the flag have said it stands for solidarity and professional pride within a dangerous, difficult profession and a…

By Sara Sheridan

Much has been written about President Trump’s open contempt for journalism. According to a recent report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Trump has habitually attacked the news media in rallies, responses to reporters’ questions, and many hundreds of tweets. He has repeatedly called the press ‘fake news,’ ‘the enemy of the people,’ ‘dishonest,’ ‘corrupt,’ ‘low life reporters,’ ‘bad people,’ ‘human scum’ and ‘some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.’”

Trump’s relationship to the media seems to consist of a series of alliances and rivalries, with common characters such as Fox News, CNN, and the…

By Ishaan Jhaveri and Sara Sheridan


In early July, Harper’s Magazine published “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” a statement signed by 152 prominent authors decrying a “stifling” intellectual atmosphere and advocating for “the free exchange of information and ideas.” While the Harper’s letter did not mention any examples of the type of speech suppression it condemned, it came after a series of media industry controversies, most notably the resignation of a top New York Times editor over an op-ed advocating for military force on protesters. …

By Susan E. McGregor

When photojournalist Andrea Bruce arrived at the “Trump Parade” in New Bern, North Carolina on June 13th, she didn’t quite know what to expect. A trip down the rabbit hole of related Facebook pages had led her to information about the event, where she encountered Trump supporters sailing their yachts along the coastline and being cheered on by other supporters from the shore.

As she photographed and interviewed the participants on land, Bruce kept seeing the same skull graphic, over and over again, on attendees’ hats and T-shirts. Though the rendering wasn’t immediately familiar to her…

By Andrea Wenzel and Jacob L. Nelson

A growing number of journalists have begun experimenting with ways of listening to and developing relationships with their audiences and broader communities in an attempt to build trust not just in their own organizations, but in news media writ large. This concept of “engaged journalism” comprises many definitions (though we find this one by Lindsay Green-Barber to be helpful), and, consequently, many practices. …

Tow Center

Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

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