Innovation Showcase

State of Video

Each May, the Tow Center hosts the Innovation Showcase, a two-day public event which features the innovative work of students at Columbia Journalism School. The projects are the result of data-driven journalism and the integration of computational journalism and data coursework which has been integrated into the school’s raditional coursework since 2012.

The Innovation Showcase not only provides a unique opportunity to see and explore students’ inventive original work, but also allows attendees to interact with the makers of each project to explore the thoughts and processes behind each work.

Innovation Showcase 2014 featured projects and processes from across the spectrum of digital journalism: from data scraping to document-transcription to photography to FOIA requests. Pieces included intimate video narratives as well as news-analysis applications and data-driven websites that have been created by participants from across the school’s media specialities and research centers.

For updates on Innovation Showcase 2015, follow the Tow Center on Twitter @TowCenter | #cujshowcase

The Tow Innovation Showcase from Tow Center on Vimeo.


Browser Topic Reader
One way to increase engagement with news articles is to provide users with visual feedback about their favourite news topics and reading habits.  By providing analytics to users about their news consumption trends, our tool provides feedback that can alter news consumption positively.

Conversations in Journalism
Conversations in Journalism 2014, presented by Columbia Journalism School Women in Media, provides a unique opportunity for journalism students, alumni, and professionals to hear from leaders and innovators with a wide range of experience and engage in discussions on the pressing topics facing the industry today.

Dispatch is a collaborative effort between computer scientists and journalists at Stanford University, Columbia University, and Tumblr to build a highly usable mobile platform that is also privacy-preserving and disconnection-resilient. Dispatch supports end-to-end encryption based on pseudonyms with a novel, painless key exchange approach called Identity-Based Cryptography. Additionally, Dispatch provides instant collaborative publishing to popular platforms like Tumblr.

Drones at Home
Drones At Home is a blog covers all the latest in drone news, from amazing videos taken in Alaskan glaciers and erupting volcanos in the South Pacific to recent dogfights between hobbyists, businesses and the Federal Aviation Administration. Our series #meandmydrone also showcases drone pilots and their drones.

Dropping the Stick
Even as NYC recycling falls, the city cuts fines in half. This project explores why the city has dropped the stick on recycling.

Finding Family
Finding Family is a documentary about building a trans-gender family in NY.

Illegal Immigration
The deportation of illegal immigrants is a topic that is well covered by the press and debated by the public. This video tells a story that is much less widely understood: How legal immigrants are being deported for minor crimes they committed years earlier.

InfoScribe helps investigative journalists unlock the stories trapped in PDF’s. InfoScribe is a generalized, web-based crowd-sourcing document transcription platform that invites the public to participate in the journalistic process by transcribing specified data fields from documents.

IRIS is a web application that provides a map of global news of positive or negative sentiment. Users can search for top recent news by country or word phrases and visualize its sentimental impact on foreign relations.

Out in the Cold
Since December 2013, a group of Columbia Journalism School photographers started “Out in the Cold,” a Tumblr-based social documentary photography project looking at the street lives of New Yorkers in crisis.

“QUEER” explores the gender identities and sexualities of radically liberal Millennials. The video is both disruptive in content and form. Instead of following a linear storyline, “QUEER” creates a space for its characters to question traditional concepts of gender and sexuality, and provides a thriving ground for its viewers to sow new ideas.

Salaam NYC
Salaam NYC is single subject website. The online platform is a news and social information hub for the women of New York, who identify as Muslim.

Salvage Amid the Ruins
“Salvage amid the ruins” is a look at the salvage industry in greater New York City.

Story South Asia
Story South Asia seeks to fill the gap in  in-depth analysis of South Asia.

WATCH Story South Asia

The 545
Why 545? That’s the number of seats in the India’s Lok Sabha. is the first dedicated online news platform on the 2014 general elections in India. It features sharp 300 to 400 word pieces with data-driven graphics and visuals, which tell interesting stories tailored for online consumption.

WATCH | The 545

The Land
“The Land” is an online platform showcasing the print and multimedia works of the Covering Religion class of 2014. As part of the seminar, the class covered a variety of religious communities in New York, and then traveled to Israel and Palestine for an 8-day reporting trip.

Download a PDF Guide to Innovation Showcase 2014 Projects


Africahist – Anjli Parrin, Yue Qiu

Aging Out – Lauren Betesh

China Town Migration – Yue Qiu, Wenxiong Zhang

City Seeks Bronx Residents’ Views on Greenways – Sonia Paul

DIY Biotic Video Games at a Lab Near You – Marni Usheroff

Dumbo: New York’s Growth Engine - Chenjie Ding

Know Where it Grows The New York World

New Global Journalism - International Newsroom

Religio: Exploring Faith’s through Italy – Covering Religion

Sounding off on Stop and Frisk – Juanita Ceballos, Adam Perez, Sylia Obell

The Abigails – Lorena O’Neil, Annaliese Wiederspahn

The NRA Network – Katie Akagi, Jefferson Mok, Barrett Sheridan

The Road to Nimule – Shadi Bushra

Undocumented Students and the DREAM Act – Helga Salinas

Voices of Sandy – Juanita Ceballos

Alumni/ae Projects

Pakistan Through A Foreign LensSara Munir 

Remembering Shrini – Ramaa Reddy Raghavan 

StringwireAdam McCauley, Phil Groman

A Peek Into a Prostitute’s Life, Goa; The Last Hippie Bastion; Painting in Prison, – Gauri Gharpure

Zero Hour: the Covert Struggle for Control of Tripoli and the Future of Libya – Bill Wheeler and Ayman Oghanna

NewsBeast Labs – Data Journalism at Newsweek & The Daily Beast - Michael Keller



Accountability Reporting: The New York World
Yolanne Almanzar, M.S. 2011Alice Brennan, M.A. 2011Sasha Chavkin, M.S. 2010Matt Drange, M.S. 2012Salim Essaid, M.S. 2012Aidan Gardiner, M.S. 2012Sam Guzik, M.S. 2011Alexander Hotz, M.S. 2010Michael Keller, M.S. 2011Maral Noshad Sharifi, M.S. 2012Curtis Skinner, M.S. 2012

The New York World produces accountability journalism devoted to deepening public understanding of the ways city and state government shape life in New York City. Our news stories and data projects illuminate issues and engage New Yorkers with information about how their city works.

Bird’s Eye View
Hoda Emam, M.S. 2012
Bogdan Mohora, M.S. 2012

At any given moment there could be thousands of birds circling above New York City. The busy atmosphere, what seems to be an endless food supply and the city lights, attract the birds. As they descend on the city or are simply flying by, the reflective glass on the various skyscrapers in Manhattan mirror habitat, fooling the birds into thinking the scenery exists. We explore the areas in New York City that are known as a “bird trap” and speak to the people who are trying to make NYC a more bird-friendly environment.

How to Cover the Modern Movement

Anna Hiatt, M.S. 2012
Andrew Katz, M.S. 2012
Fatima Muneer, M.S. 2012

The Occupy Wall Street conversation evolved second-by-second, tweet-by-tweet online. And so, when we reported from the Wall Street and Zuccotti Park protests, we didn’t think twice about how we told the story. We used our phones, sent out tweets and shot iPhone photos of our cameras. Covering OWS, the technology came second and the story came first.

Project Borders
Marcus Haraldsson, M.A. 2012
Christo de Klerk

We have built a new interactive multimedia platform online, and for smartphones and exhibitions. We use it to tell stories of borders, the breaking points, that every good story consist of. The photographs and films that we are showing here have been produced by migrants in Queens that have returned to their home countries with lent cameras.

Religio: Exploring Faith in Italy
Raya Jalabi, M.S. 2012
Neha Prakash, M.S. 2012

Religio was a collaborative project showcasing multimedia and print work produced in Ari Goldman’s Covering Religion seminar. Students researched issues of religious diversification in Italy, looking closely at the changing role of the Catholic Church in relation to vibrant immigrant communities. Our travels to Rome, Naples and Bari allowed students to report on stories varying from photo essays on nuns to video profiles of Libyan refugees to a look at the marginalized gypsy community’s religious practices.

SeeSaw: Audience comments at-a-glance
Vivien Marx, M.A. 2011
Joanne Luciano, PhD. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

When people post comments about stories they read, see, or hear, the lists can get unwieldy. SeeSaw weighs the comments’ content and tone and delivers icons to readers that reflect these thoughts and emotions. For example: Why do readers love the subject of the article, or what makes people angry after reading the piece?

A Sprawling Network of Syrian Aid
Daniel A. Medina, M.S. 2012
Carl V. Lewis, M.S. 2012

From New York and California, to Lebanon to Turkey, then into Syria, how a group of domestic activists are funneling resources- and providing aid- to an oppressed people.

Targeting Religion:NYPD Surveillance of Muslims
Salim Essaid, M.S. 2012
Marc Georges, M.S. 2012
Mohamed Omer, M.S. 2012
Curtis Skinner, M.S. 2012
Brian Abelson, M.S., Quantitative Methods in the Social Science (QMSS)

As more NYPD surveillance reports targeting Muslims are released, the debate over religious profiling heats up in New York City. Is this legal? Is this necessary? How much freedom do we need to sacrifice for security? Aren’t our freedoms what we are trying to protect to begin with? Focusing on one of the mosques targeted by the NYPD in their 2006 secret reports we look at data, government policies, and discussion to answer these questions.

Photo, Print and Long-Form

Letters From Lockdown: One man’s journey to use art to free a convicted murderer
Ryan W. Neal, M.S. 2012
Marc Weinreich, M.S. 2012

Nanon Williams, a convicted murdered, and Bryonn Bain, a professor and political activist, have created a one-man performance that uses music, video and poetry to challenge audience’s perceptions of the U.S. prison system. We tell their story using the iPad’s technology and The Atavist’s publishing platform to enhance the written word with digital multimedia extras.

Ringside at Super Tuesday
Sam Guzik M.S. 2011Erin Cauchi M.S. 2012Anna Codrea-Rado M.S. 2012Laura Fosmire M.S. 2012Marc Georges M.S. 2012Emily Judem M.S. 2012David Michaels M.S. 2012Fatimatuz Muneer M.S. 2012Nadine Natour M.S. 2012Alessandra Potenza M.S. 2012Ben Bradford M.S. 2012Hiten Samtani M.S. 2012Jillian Sederholm,Anam Siddiq M.S. 2012, Courtney Sinner M.S. 2012Yang Sui M.S. 2012Nasr ul Had M.S. 2012

More states vote on Super Tuesday than any other day. That means the greatest number of delegates are up for grabs. The winner is the first candidate to reach 1,144 delegates and win the party’s vote at the Republican National Convention in Tampa from Aug. 27-30.

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Visual Narrative class, under the director of Paul Cheung from the AP and Digital Media Associate Sam Guzik, produced a data visualization for the Miami Herald explaining Super Tuesday. The class fully reported the story conducting independent data collection and verification, and then visualized the information using Adobe Illustrator.

The Slaughterhouse
Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, M.S. 2012

It’s bloody, it’s loud, and it smells like manure. Madani Halal is an unlikely gathering place, yet dozens of New Yorkers flock to the Queens business daily. The slaughterhouse is the backbone of this small community — despite its proximity to death.

The third space: A Bronx school’s library and its librarian
Donovan X. Ramsey, M.S. 2012

“The third space” is the story of the library at the Bronx Academy of Letters middle and high school. A rare space in the neighborhood, it facilitates achievement in students where the rest of the city fails. But just three years into its existence, the library is at risk of being dismantled as the state plans to move a charter school into Letters’ building. The story is told through a librarian so passionate about books and young people she has a tattoo inspired by “The Little Prince.”


A Second Chance
Todd Baker, M.S. 2012
Ben Teitelbaum, M.S. 2012

When transit officer Eric Strezenec had his leg amputated, he thought his days of being an athlete were over. But he discovered a sport that gave him a second chance, sled hockey.

The Benchmarks of Central Park
Monica Alba, M.S. 2012
Angela Reece, M.S. 2012

If New York City is the Big Apple, then Central Park is its core. And for some New Yorkers, life’s most precious moments are immortalized in 120 characters on the tiny stainless steel bench plaques that dot the massive park. There are countless mysteries etched into the dedications and inscriptions on these benches: some romantic, some in memoriam and others just plain weird. Who would you dedicate a bench to and what would it say?

Home Is Where the Heart Is
Milos Balac, M.S. 2012
Ben Teitelbaum, M.S. 2012

Scott and Whitney live on the Upper West Side. They’re a young and happy married couple – they’re also homeless.

The Hipster Hunt

Lorena Galliot, M.S. 2012
Julie Percha, M.S. 2012

The term hipster is thrown around a lot – they’re the ones everyone loves to hate. But for international students, its meaning remains murky. This video takes a clueless French student on a hipster hunt in the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and delves into the term’s jazzy origins. Warning: hipsters will not be amused.

Tides: From West Africa to the Bronx River

Alexandra Hootnick, M.S. 2012
To a funny, popular, 15-year-old, moving to a new country meant leaving everything behind. But in the south Bronx, a place with little resemblance to his native Guinea, Sekou discovered how the craft of wooden boatbuilding could help anchor him in the midst of growing up.

What You May Not Know About Fresh Direct

Olivia Smith, M.S. 2012
Anam Siddiq, M.S. 2012

Controversy is growing over Fresh Direct’s planned moved to the Bronx. The online grocery store received almost $130 million in tax credits and cash incentives from New York state to relocate. But lost in all this is what you may not know about Fresh Direct and its impact on the environment.


The annual Innovation Showcase is sponsored by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, with generous support from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.


Tow and Brown logos-for-nytimes-event