New Tow Center Research Fellows Explore the Vanguard of Digital Journalism

NEW YORK – The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School welcomes nine Knight News Innovation Fellows to its research program. The new Fellows come from practice and academia, including The New York Times, This American Life, Yale, Rutgers and Syracuse universities. They will pursue a wide range of subjects, including virtual reality, how virality works for audio, and the use of machine learning in newsrooms.

The Fellowship projects are funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, building on the Tow Center’s existing research at the intersection of journalism and technology.

“This is a fascinating place to work right now, both in practice and research terms. Our fellows bring a wealth of diverse experience, both from academic and journalistic backgrounds, that help to surface trends and navigate this dynamic field,” said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center.

The new Fellows will work on six distinct projects across four areas: Audiences & Engagement, Computational Journalism, Impact & Metrics and Experimental Journalism. The Tow Center hosted the Fellows for orientation on February 18 at Columbia Journalism School; they join the more than 25 existing Fellows and 13 ongoing research projects.

“The fellows bring extraordinary expertise to the program. The hope is that they will provide rich explorations around pressing questions and ideas that are important for both working journalists and students, as well as people in related fields who are passionate about news and information,” said Shazna Nessa, the Journalism Director, Knight Foundation.

“The work of Tow Fellows applies academic rigor to important questions emerging from newsrooms. We are particularly pleased that our growing community of Tow Fellows is contributing to the rapidly changing teaching and practice of journalism,” said Claire Wardle, research director for the Tow Center.


2016 Tow Fellows and Research Projects

Assessing the Impact and Metrics of Virtual Reality
Dan Archer, Empathetic Media

Meeting in Digital Spaces: American News Organizations Using Chat Apps to Cover Political Unrest
Valerie Belair-Gagnon, Colin Agur and Nick Frisch, Yale University

Guide to Data Science Literacy for Public Affairs Reporting
Sarah Cohen, New York Times

Developing Clipper: A Social Audio Tool
Stephanie Foo, This American Life

Illuminating 2016: Helping Journalists Cover Social Media in the Presidential Campaign
Jenny Stromer-Galley, Syracuse University

Digital Journalism and the Challenges of Managing a 21st Century Newsroom Workforce
Matthew Weber and Allie Kosterich, Rutgers University

The Fellowships are part of a $3 million research program funded by the Knight Foundation. Since the program began, the Center has published a number of reports as well as shorter guides on key trends including Automated Journalism, Chatapps, and Podcasting. The Tow Center also hosts large-scale conferences and smaller, skills-based workshops to further conversation around the published research.

The Tow Center offers fellowships to academics, journalists and technologists, disseminating research for application in newsrooms as well as classrooms. Read more about the new Tow Fellows and their research projects. For more information, please e-mail


About the Tow Center for Digital Journalism

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, established in 2010 through a grant from the Tow Foundation, provides journalism students with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of digital journalism and serves as a research and development center for the profession as a whole.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more visit,