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Tow Center for Digital Journalism's Knight News Innovation Fellowship

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, based at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, provides journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of digital journalism. The Center produces timely, high-quality, and accessible research with some of the world’s leading thinkers in journalism innovation, across practice and academia. The Tow Center, with generous funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is pleased to announce the 2021 call for proposals for rigorous research into emerging technology and trends impacting the news industry. We invite students, researchers, faculty, and practitioners in the fields of computer science and journalism to propose potential research projects that fall within our four areas of inquiry:
  1. Computation, Algorithms, and Automated Journalism;
  2. Data, Metrics, and Impact;
  3. Audiences and Engagement;
  4. Experimental Journalism, Models, and Practice.
We are particularly interested in funding research to study the following topics:
  • AI in the newsroom (workflows, human interventions, staffing, displacements, etc.)
  • Ethics of AI in journalism
  • Emerging or future technologies in AI and journalism
  • AI, journalism and the law
  • Case studies (e.g. automated court reporting)
You can read some of the previous research supported by the Knight Foundation here. We outline the proposal process for research projects in further detail below, and encourage you to adhere closely to the outline noted.

Research projects range from small to large in scope; a small project might comprise a few months of local field research and writing to produce a white paper on a specific topic at the forefront of the study and practice of digital journalism; a large project might comprise the design and implementation of a technology or process to then be tested and evaluated in an applied journalism context.

Project Proposal Format
The Tow Center is only accepting project proposals on the Submittable platform, and each application must include a proposal and budget. Project proposals should be uploaded as an MS Word Document, three (3) pages or fewer, 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial), and 1-inch margins.
The proposal must include:
  • An overview of the topic.
  • The research question(s) to be addressed.
  • An outline of the research design containing a well-justified description of the proposed methodology.
  • Project deliverables, posts to the Center's CJR vertical, papers, events and programming, or applications
.
  • Project personnel, including short biographies and links to personnel websites, CVs or resumes for all proposed team members, indicating why they are capable of delivering the work.
  • Project timeline, clearly indicating a proposed timeline for work, project phases, and expected time commitments from team members.
Project budget: please view the Tow Center's research budget template here and submit with the anticipated full project cost. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

**UPDATE: Research, Travel & COVID-19**
As a result of COVID-19, we ask that all proposals that include plans for in-person interviews, focus groups, and travel include alternative plans and/or budgets in the event that in-person interviews, focus groups and travel is prohibited. Although subject to change, current University policy states that no in-person meetings or travel can be conducted or funded at this time.

Project Proposal Review Process
01/11/2021: Deadline for Research Project Proposals
02/11/2021: Date by which we will have contacted Project Proposal applicants

About Tow Center Research
The Tow Center’s different research projects engage particular communities in different ways—both in terms of who produces the work and who consumes it. Researchers and project proposers should let the target audiences inform their plans for research content, activities, and dissemination. The practicing digital journalism community forms the Tow Center’s biggest constituency; largely, these are working reporters and newsroom managers. For news executives the Tow Center aims to provide awareness of significant new ideas, access to our fellows for their expertise, workshop space to focus on “the next thing,” and avenues of engagement for their teams to become involved. We welcome collaboration with faculty, researchers, and students at other academic institutions. For the academic research community, the Tow Center also aims to provide opportunities to publish quality, relevant work on fast timelines.
Research Type: Tone, Language, and Output Rhythm
The Tow Center’s mission is to help individual journalists, students, faculty, news organizations, and policymakers to develop and expand their thinking around and practice in digital journalism. Tow Center research projects need to serve busy people who consume a lot of information: The tone and language must therefore efficiently convey that the content is insightful, stimulating, backed by quality research that would otherwise be unavailable, and relevant to the audiences’ professional lives.

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