Platforms & Publishers

Platforms & Publishers

Reports & Briefs

Tow/Knight Projects

Policy Exchange Forums

Project Leader:

The Policy Exchange Forums are a critical component of the Tow Center’s Platforms and Publishers research project. In these sessions participants representing both platforms and publishers can engage with issues that directly relate to the ethical and civic values of journalism. The forum aims at the relationship between technology, business, journalism, and ethics and brings together diverse stakeholders from interdisciplinary fields to discuss current issues and surface potential new ones.


Policy Exchange Forum I and Open Conference

Artificial Intelligence: Practice and Implications for Journalism 

(June 13, 2017)

On June 13, 2017, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation co-organized a one-day event on AI and Journalism featuring renowned scholars and practitioners on the field. The event revolved around three main areas: technology (network analysis, data quality, AI and surveillance…), ethics (algorithmic bias, ethics of errors, trust and propaganda…), and the newsroom (automatic writing, algorithms displacing writers, the skillset of the modern journalist…).

The morning session (8 to 10:45am) was a Policy Exchange Forum closed to the public; the afternoon session (1 to 3:45pm) was public conference.

Read the full report on Academic Commons.


1:00pm Welcome Address from Steve Coll (Columbia Journalism School)

1:15pm Exploring the Ethics of the AI Powered Products – with Angela Bassa (iRobot), Jerry Talton (Slack), Amanda Levendowski (NYU), Madeleine Clare Elish (Columbia University), Gilad Lotan (Buzzfeed), John Keefe (Quartz), moderated by Nick Diakopoulos (University of Maryland)

2:15pm Future Ethical Dilemmas: Joshua Benton (Nieman Journalism Lab) in conversation with Rachita Chandra (IBM Watson Health)

2:45pm AI in the Newsroom: Technology and Practical Applications – with Sam Bowman (NYU), Marc Lavallee (The New York Times), Sasha Koren (The Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab), Judith Donath (Berkman Center), Meredith Whittaker (Google Open Research / AINow), moderated by Christopher Mims (The Wall Street Journal)

3:30pm Closing Remarks from Emily Bell (Tow Center for Digital Journalism)

Click here to read As AI enters newsrooms, journalists have urgent responsibility, a CJR piece with the highlights of the conference.

What problems in journalism can AI help solve?


Policy Exchange Forum II and Open Conference

The Future of Advertising and Publishing (October 20, 2017)

The second Policy Exchange Forum took place in Cambridge (MA) on October 20, 2017. This session was co-sponsored by the Digital Initiative at Harvard Business School and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. This timely conversation included two discussions. The first session addressed the question: “What are possible futures for the relationship between publishers and advertisers?”. The second one addressed the question: “How can platforms, news publishers, and advertising agencies shape the quality of advertising?”

The morning session (8 to 12:45pm) was a Policy Exchange Forum closed to the public; the afternoon session (1:30 to 4:30pm) was a public conference entitled “The Future of Advertising and Publishing: Finding New Revenue Models for Journalism in the Digital Age”.

Read the full report on Academic Commons.


1:30pm Welcome Address from David Homa (Digital Initiative)

1:40pm Opening Remarks (David Carroll, The New School)

2:00pm Panel I – Social Distribution, Advertising and the Free Press – with Emily Bell (Tow Center for Digital Journalism), David Carroll (The New School), Nicco Mele (Shorenstein Center) and Kinsey Wilson (The New York Times)

3:30pm Panel II – Revenue Models & Adjacent Media Spaces – with Janet Balis (Ernst & Young), Brendan Eich (Brave), Tim Ganss (The Echo Nest), Kerri Hoffman (PRX)

4:45pm Closing Remarks from Emily Bell (Tow Center for Digital Journalism)

Policy Exchange Forum III and Open Conference

The Ethics of Social Platforms and Content Moderation (February 23, 2018)

The third Policy Exchange Forum will take place in Los Angeles (CA) on February 23, 2018. This session is co-sponsored by the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. This event will focus on three main themes: ethics of moderation (experiences, challenges and concerns from platforms and publishers), moderation tools (changes on moderation systems) and technological challenges (distribution of moderation between human and non-human actors, ethical demands placed by technological advances…). 

The morning session (8am to 1pm) is a Policy Exchange Forum closed to the public; the afternoon session (2pm to 5pm) is a public conference entitled “Controlling the Conversation: The Ethics of Social Platforms and Content Moderation”.


2pm Welcome Address from Dean Willow Bay (USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism)

2:15pm Platforms and Publishers: In Search of New Standards in Media Ethics – with Abhi Chaudhuri (Google, Jennifer Grygiel (University of Syracuse), Andrew Losowsky (The Coral Project) and Sarah Roberts (UCLA), Ashkan Soltani (researcher and technologist). Moderated by Gabriel Kahn (USC)

3:30pm Emily Bell in conversation with David Kaye (UC Irvine School of Law)

4:00pm Ethics of Moderation Labour – with Ciaran Cassidy (filmmaker), Anika Gupta (The Atlantic), Caroline Sinders (Wikimedia Foundation) and Talia Stroud (University of Texas at Austin). Moderated by Mike Ananny (USC).

5:00pm Closing Remarks from Colin Maclay (USC) and Emily Bell (Tow Center for Digital Journalism)

Click here to read The new ‘billion-dollar problem’ for platforms and publishers, a CJR piece with the highlights of the conference.


Policy Exchange Forum IV – Open Conference

Public Record Under Threat: News and the Archive in the Age of Digital Distribution

The fourth (and last) Policy Exchange Forum was an open conference co-sponsored by the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford University. This session took place on April 13, 2018, and the topic for discussion was news and the archive in the age of digital distribution. Panels featured journalists, technologists, librarians, and engineers who discussed how they are preserving the first draft of history in an era of newsroom cutbacks, ephemeral social media, and disappearing data. This was a chance to learn how newsrooms are handling the digitization of print content and the preservation of digital-born news. Who makes the decisions? What are the biggest challenges and how are news organizations solving them? The conversation also addressed the importance of the public record and how reporters are using and thinking about archives, as well as how their practices and policies will affect access to content in the future.


1pm Welcome and Introduction (Maneesh Agrawala – Brown Institute for Media Innovation; Emily Bell – Tow Center)

1:15pm Emily Bell in Conversation with Mark Graham (The Internet Archive) and Jake Orlowitz (Wikimedia Foundation)

2:00pm Digitization and Preservation: The News Archive – with Stephen Abrams (California Digital Library), Michael Corey (Reveal), Anu Paul (Digital Archivist – Consultant) and Evan Sandhaus (The Atlantic). Moderated by Katherine Boss (NYU Journalism Library)

3pm Coffee Break

3:20pm Brown Institute Magic Grants Presentation: Data Interrupted (Francesco Fiondella)

3:45pm Who Keeps the Public Record? Access and Transparency – with Victoria Baranetsky (Reveal), Karen Cariani (WGBH), Alex Howard (Sunlight Foundation), Regina Roberts (Stanford University Library) and Geoffrey Samek (YouTube). Moderated by Nate Hill (Metropolitan New York Library Council)

4:45pm Closing Remarks (Ann Grimes – Brown Institute for Media Innovation)


June 19, 2017