Tow/Knight Projects

The following projects are made possible by generous funding from both The Tow Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For further information, see our Request for Proposals page or write us at

The Sensor Newsroom

Printed Circuit Board

Summary: Exploring how recent advances in sensor networks, citizen science, unmanned vehicles and community-based data collection can be used by a new generation of sensor journalist to move from data analysis to data collection. This project will involve a series of experiments between journalists and scientists to demonstrate the utility of sensor data collection and storytelling.

Project Leaders: Fergus Pitt, Sara-Jayne Farmer

Single-Subject News


On Nov. 8-10, 2013, more than a dozen publishers and editors of single-subject news websites gathered at Columbia University for the Single-Subject News Conference.

Summary: To study, build a network of, and develop best practices for journalist-founders who have designed custom digital outlets focused on one story.

MORE INFO: Details of Study Statement
DOWNLOAD: Tow Brief: Seeking the Single-Subject News Model
WATCH: Single-Subject News Conference Panel Discussions
CONNECT: Follow on Twitter @hypertopical  #nichenews

Project Leaders: Lara Setrakian, Kristin Nolan

Data Journalism

Summary: The Tow Center is conducting a wide range of academic research, teaching, public engagement and development of best practices in the field of data and computational journalism.

Project Leaders: Jonathan Stray, Nick DiakopoulosAlexander Howard

Metrics: Production and Consumption

Summary: Studying the role of metrics in news organizations and the decision-making and design process of analytics firms.

Project Leaders: Caitlin Petre

Newsroom Places and Spaces in a Post-Industrial Age

Summary: This project journeys to newsrooms that show a prominent sign of an adaptation to a post-industrial world: newsrooms that have left their buildings for smaller spaces, often entirely designed around the idea of a digital-first model, or that have repurposed their space to make way for non-journalists, hoping for synergy and a way to fill empty space.

Project Leaders: Nikki Usher

Digital Activism and Citizen Journalism

Summary: Policy relevant research on the intersections of citizen journalism and digital activism, developing original data and the visualization and query tools to make the data useful for working journalists and students doing advanced coursework in journalism.

Project Leaders: Philip Howard

The Future of Digital Longform

Summary: The research seeks to define the new format “digital longform,” articulate criteria by which digital longform journalism is judged and valued, and discusses successful models for soliciting, editing, publishing, and disseminating  and monetizing longform content in the digital ecosystem.

Project Leaders: Anna Hiatt 

Video Now: The Forms, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism  

Summary: The Video Now report proposes to examine the forms, costs, and effects of video journalism today.  The report will examine the editorial, production, and business strategies of newsrooms, ranging from the New York Times and the Washington Post to startups and non-traditional video operations such as Vice.  The report will focus primarily on U.S.-based organizations.

Project Leader: Duy Linh Tu

AMATEUR FOOTAGE: A Global Study of User Generated Content 

Summary: This project is a global study into the integration of User Generated Content (UGC) in news output in television broadcasts and online.

Project Leaders: Claire Wardle and Sam Dubberley

Foreign Correspondents Manual

Foreign Correspondents Manual

Summary: A project that maps the landscape of digitally-native foreign reporting, develops a toolkit for operating in this new media landscape, and helps shape the curriculum in international journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.

Project Leader: Ann Cooper

Broken News:

Summary: Understanding the interplay of traditional and social reporting during major news events

Project Leader: Andy Carvin

Social Sharing of Longform Journalism

Summary: The research explores the nature of how people discover, consume and share longform journalism. The main goal is to look at the sharing process – what gets shared, with whom, when, through what channels, as well as the social consequences and rewards of sharing such content.

Project Leaders: Michelle Levine and Michael Shapiro

Read the latest Tow Center Reports and Tow Briefs from the Tow Center and Tow Fellows.