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from the Tow Center
Engaged Journalism: Bridging Research & Practice

We count both academic researchers and journalist practitioners among our own here at the Tow Center, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest there are gaps in understanding and expectations between the two camps. At the 2019 International Communication Association (ICA), the Tow Center is co-sponsoring a pre-conference program for academic researchers and journalists to share lessons learned, generate new ideas, and brainstorm opportunities for collaboration. 

Time: Friday, May 24, 2019, 12:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Arizona State University Barbara Barrett and Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C
This event is free and both scholars and journalists are welcome. 

Events at the Tow Center
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford will launch the Digital News Report 2019—the biggest study of its kind about digital media consumption—at The Tow Center on June 17. Drawing on 75,000 respondents in 38 markets, the Digital News Report 2019 offers up-to-date insights on how people find news and use media. The report covers issues including the business of journalism, disinformation, and the role of social media.

Time: Monday, June 17, 2019, 11:40am - 2:00pm
Location: Brown Institute, Columbia Journalism School
This event is free and open to the public, though registration is required. 
Can Report for America build trust in local news?
In a new Tow Center report, Andrea Wenzel, Sam Ford, Steve Bynum, and Efrat Nechushtai look at Report for America—a project that seeks to place 1,000 reporters in local newsrooms by 2022 by paying half the reporter’s salary—in two different communities: a majority African American neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, and a rural county in Eastern Kentucky.

Based on six months of research and interviews with local residents, these case studies illustrate that "trust" often means a messy combination of interrelated factors, including accuracy and credibility, representation, and perceptions of the motives of news outlets. The report xx and found residents in rural Kentucky and inner-city Chicago shared a sense that RFA fellows’ stories were more about their communities than for them.

The authors conclude with lessons learned and recommendations for Report for America fellows and anyone else looking to strengthen local news ecosystems in order to support healthy and civically engaged communities.
In the Columbia Journalism Review
Audit suggests Google favors a small number of major outlets
by Nicholas Diakopoulos
For all the influence Google has in directing attention, we know painfully little about how its algorithm selects and curates news. In a study completed by Diakopoulos and Daniel Trielli, the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern found that just 20 news sources account for more than half of the article impressions featured by Google. The top three, accounting for 23 percent, were CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post

The fascist next door: how to cover hate
by Sam Thielman
How should journalists cover what seems to be a resurgence of hate groups in America? Thielman outlines the broad spectrum of suggested approaches and notes the convergence of far right and white nationalist views has made these choices even thornier.

Mapping the battleground for the next information war
by Emily Bell
Newsrooms train reporters on how to keep themselves and their sources safe in physically hostile environments. The new challenge, Bell writes, is to extend those practices to cyberspace, especially as targeted harassment, doxxing, fake accounts, and misinformation campaigns appear poised to grow in frequency and sophistication. 

Misinformation about New York schools spreads in Chinese on WeChat
by Mia Shuang Li
There's an unexpectedly hot topic among the global Chinese-speaking readership on WeChat: possible New York City's standardized high school testing reform. Misleading headlines such as “New York mayor tries hard to keep Chinese kids from dominating top high school” frame the reform as yet another hurdle for low-income Chinese-American families.
In the News and At Large
For the US Centre at The London School of Economics, Jonathan Albright writes that the modern internet has made hate more visible and accessible. Albright points to eight "informational vectors" that help inter-nationalist interests recruit online: conspiracies, religion, race, geopolitics, gender, political party, toxic humor, and curation.

Albright, the director of the Digital Forensics Initiative at the Tow Center, also recently kicked off the "Digital Democracies: Artificial Publics, Just Infrastructures, Ethical Learning" with a presentation on amplification by human-coordinated automation. 

Both focus groups had the same question: "Is he a local boy?" NiemanLab summarized the report by Tow fellows Andrea Wenzel, Sam Ford, Steve Bynum, and Efrat Nechushtai on trust and Report for America fellows.

NiemanLab also pulled out fascinating comments from consumers grappling with fake news from a new study by Tow fellow Andrea Wenzel.

To capture the urgent conversation around the growing disinformation war, the Columbia Journalism Review covered a recent panel with the Tow Center's Emily Bell, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, and Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines who has been targeted a government-sponsored campaign of harassment and disinformation. Ressa is currently facing arraignment in Philippines court and appeared via video.

Susan McGregor, assistant director of the Tow Center, spoke with The Wall Street Journal about what Big Tech is (and isn't) doing to stop the spread of misinformation about vaccines. 

Tow fellows Sam Ford and Andrea Wenzel contributed to Building Engagement: Supporting the Practice of Relational Journalism. The two also presented research at the tenth Media in Transition (#MiT10) conference, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and their abstracts are available online.
We're hiring!
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, based at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, is seeking a Program Assistant to support the work of the director and the Center. See the complete job listing for more. 
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