Feb 23. Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, In Conversation

Just hours after The Washington Post unveiled its new slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” the Brown Institute at Stanford hosted the newspaper’s Executive Editor Martin “Marty’” Baron, as part of the Institute’s Winter Quarter Speaker Series.

Brown's Stanford Director, Maneesh Agrawala, interviewed Baron before a capacity crowd at Stanford’s CEMEX Auditorium. The two held a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the state of journalism, the Post’s response to President Trump’s attacks on the press, and howThe Washington Post is surviving and thriving in the digital era.


Feb 13. Daniel Alarcón: Telling True Stories in Sound


In the United States, audio storytelling is experiencing a renaissance. The latest wave of sophisticated podcasts cover stories on everything from true crime to architecture to imaginary worlds. Instead of just recreating radio for the digital age, podcasting is expanding and rewriting the type of stories that can be told in sound.

On Tuesday, February 7, the Brown Insitute hosted Daniel Alarcón, the creator of one of these podcasts, to talk at Stanford about how he tells true stories in audio. His podcast, Radio Ambulante, started with the ambitious premise of being the Spanish-speaking "This American Life." Since it began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Radio Ambulante has gained an audience across the Americas, and is now the first Spanish-language podcast distributed by NPR. In 2014, it received the Gabriel García Márquez Prize for Innovation in Journalism, a highly prestigious journalism honor in Latin America.

Feb 10. Brown Institute Movie Night: "The Search for General Tso"


Food from Pei Wei and Panda Express greeted guests at the Brown Institute's first ever movie night on Wednesday, February 1.

The Chinese food helped guests get in the mood for the evening’s event: A screening of Brown Institute Fellow Jennifer 8. Lee's documentary "The Search for General Tso.” The film debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and now is available on Netflix.

Jan 30. Recap: Networks in Journalism - Transparency Series


This past weekend at Columbia University, The Brown Institute played host to some of the world's most prodigious networkers. Not the schmoozing kind nor the TCP/IP and fiber kind, but analysts of the public interest, studying networks of people and documents to map out relationships among the powerful.

Friday evening was kicked off by a conversation with Mar Cabra, the head of the Data and Research Unit of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and Kevin Connor, Director of the Public Accountability Initiative and a co-founder of LittleSis.

You can listen to the audio from Friday night's conversation with Kevin and Mar on the Brown Institute's Soundcloud.

Jan 25. Innovation in Unique Places - Dick Penny of The Watershed


On January 31st, 2017, The Brown Institute at Columbia Journalism School will welcome Dick Penny, director of the Watershed in Bristol. The Watershed offers lively public programs in film, media, the arts and the creative economy. Penny and the Watershed reach out to museums, libraries, government bureaus and NGOs, engaging them through new creative practices and nurturing media innovation in unique places. 

The Watershed supports the work of various artist collectives like WeAreAnagram, creators of the immersive theater piece “Door into the dark”, Winner of the 2015 Storyscapes Awards at Tribeca Film Festival and selected for the Digital Dozen by Columbia University. The Watershed is also responsible for nurturing the Pervasive Media Studio, a city-centre research space which brings together a network of over 100 artists, technologists and academics to explore the future of mobile and wireless media -- from talks on VR and contemporary dance to sponsoring a "Food Residency", described as "uniting sound, image and taste."

In addition to directing the Watershed, Dick Penny works as a producer, a manager and a consultant in the creative sector. He is also founding director of Bristol+, a creative partnership board made up of public sector officials and creative entrepreneurs. In 2010 he was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to the creative industries in Bristol.

The event will be held January 31, 2017  starting at 5:30pm in Pulitzer Hall at The Brown Institute on the campus of Columbia University, 2950 Broadway, NY, NY. 

We hope you can join us for a discussion of novel collaborations in media!

Jan 20. Brown Institute Converges for Base Camp at Stanford


The Brown Institute was founded on the promise that by bringing together students from our two campuses, Stanford and Columbia, we might be able to change the world, but we'd certainly be able to enrich their lives. This past weekend, we did just that, inviting 24 students to particpate in our third annual Base Camp held at Stanford.

We spent the weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, developing project frameworks to enrich the discussions happening in comments sections, characterize journalists' use of anonymous sources across different publications, craft new expressions of the "American Dream," and create playful ways to break online ad tracking.

The event was designed and emceed by Lydia Chilton, our Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford for 2016/2017, making the jump from being a previous Base Camper to Head Councilor.


Part of what makes Base Camp so meaningful to us at The Brown Institute is that it is such a distilled expression of what we aspire to do: literally bringing together students of Journalism, Engineering, and related fields from Columbia and Stanford, and getting them to appreciate and collaborate with one another. In just three days, these students meet each other, most for the first time, and by the end they've seen through the planning of several radically diverse projects that push technology and story forward in some way.

It also serves as a chance to bring new collaborators into the Brown Institute family, creating project ideas and potential collaborators across both universities for our upcoming fifth annual Magic Grants. If spending a few months, or a year working on that intersection of story and technology, or using technology to push journalism forward sounds like your idea of a good time, consider putting in an application.

See more photos from the event by our Stanford visiting professor Greg Niemeyer and 360gifs by Rosalie Yu.

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Dec 03. Ellen Weinstein on Illustration


The Brown Institute is delighted to welcome back Ellen Weinstein, a well-known illustrator whose work has appeared in outlets like The New York Times, The Village Voice, Nautilus and The New Republic, to name just a few. On Friday, December 2, Weinstein led a panel on illustration and journalism. Panelists included Andrew Horton, the Creative Director of the Village Voice; Alissa Levin, founder and principal of Point Five; and Victor Juhasz, a prolific political caricaturist. While our discussion was ostensibly about the ways in which illustrators craft stories, we kept returning to the national election.

How do you make sense of it and how do you respond? What should illustrators, and artists in general, be doing? The panel returned to this question in one way or another, whether it was through overtly political satire or more quiet expressions of uncertainty. With a mix of art directors and illustrators on the panel, we started to get a sense of how illustration interacts with the editorial process -- how work is commissioned, how ideas develop and how judgements are made about the appropriateness of images.

In the end, we saw the power of the medium, both as its own form of expression, as well as through its ability to elevate journalism.

Some details. Andrew Horton oversaw the design of The Village Voice covers during the election cycle, creating illustrations about Clinton being "her own worst enemy," the Republican National Convention, and, just a week before the election, the impact of Trump's candidacy on the U.S. Horton opened his process, showing works in various stages before publication and describing when drawings had gone "too far." Alissa Levin and her company Point Five have worked with publications like Harpers, Nautilus, and even our own Columbia Journalism Review. Levin discussed a range of projects she's supervised and her different strategies for developing illustrations. Victor Juhasz presented sketches during his time embedded as a "combat artist" with a MEDEVAC unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. These were powerful works, often drawn during rescue missions. We also saw a fair number of Juhasz's political satire pieces that commented, sharply, on moments during the election cycle.  

Then, Saturday, Weinstein led a packed house of journalism students through a set of exercises, prompts for drawing. First, fast sketching around big words - "climate," "identity," "bullying," and so on. Then, we paired off and took turns as editor and illustrator, creating an image for two of three articles Weinstein provided. The energy around this task was amazing. Weinstein is a true professional and her critique ranges from the practical to the profound. We closed the day with students considering their own projects and how they could add illustration. Weinstein's advice was to distill the story into one sentence -- that process of reduction leads to an effective back and forth with visual ideas. We closed with a detailed critique from Weinstein, again insightful and compelling. 

This was the second year we have featured illustration in the Transparency Series, and there will certainly be a third! Thank you, Ellen, for an incredible couple of days.

Nov 30. Brown Welcomes BBC News to Stanford


The Brown Institute is excited to host BBC News Executives Gavin Allen, Morwen Williams, Trushar Barot and Ros Atkins to campus this week. On Tuesday, the BBC team met with reporters and editors at The Stanford Daily for a discussion on the future of the digital newsroom. In addition to meeting with Brown Magic grantees, students and faculty, the BBC News team will spend the week in residence with the Brown Institute at Stanford, working on new video capture and editing software. 

Nov 29. Fall Speaker Series at Stanford, pondering the locus of media

In November, Brown@Stanford hosted the first two speakers in its year-long series that examines how innovation is alterating the face of public media and platforms. 

On November 1, Internet Archive's Founder and Director, Brewster Kahle, in a talk entitled "Brewster Kahle locks the web open," balanced a historical look at the web with an open forum on discussing how in its third decade it could be improved upon, both in terms of access and structure, through decentralization.  The decentralized web "lives everywhere and nowhere," Mr. Kahle said, adding, "it is possible to do this." Tools that were not available to the early developers make this process possible. The talk went on to outline some of the challenges and questions involved in making it happen. 

Then, on November 17, Bay Area Journalist Frances Dinkelspiel introduced the Stanford crowd to Berkeleyside, an innovative approach to local news reporting and ownership. Berkeleyside seeks to report local, and is the first media agency using a Direct Public Offering to let members of its community and readership become vested in the endeavor. Citing some of the reasons why local news coverage has declined over the last few years across the industry, she then outlined why this coverage is still vital to the communities that it serves, and how Berkeleyside is addressing these needs using the new media platforms and tools and engaging directly with their readership.

The Speaker Series will continue in the winter quarter with appearance by Marty Barron and Daniel Alarcon. Dates and details will be announced once formalized. If you'd like to be notified, please join our mail list by clicking here.

Brown Visiting Professor Greg Niemeyer will also present a talk on the Stanford campus on December 9 entitled "State Change: What media will communicate climate change?" Further details can be found here.

Nov 25. Transparency Series on Illustration - Dec 2 & 3


Illustration is the next topic in our Transparency Series! Journalistic outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Atlantic and Nautilus use illustration as an important part of their content. Word and image work together to produce beautifully told stories, drawing readers in. Metaphor, humor and empathy are powerful visual tools to engage and delight. As usual, our events take place in two parts.

Friday, December 2nd from 5-6pm Ellen Weinstein will lead a panel discussion that is open to the public with Andrew Horton, Alissa Levin, and Victor Juhasz on illustration as it relates to journalism. Andrew Horton is the Creative Director of the Village Voice. He has previously led the art departments of Business Week, Billboard and Advertising Age, and he has worked for magazines such as New York, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone. Alissa Levin is founder and principal of Point Five, a New York City-based design studio specializing in work with an educational or cultural focus. Victor Juhasz has illustrated for many major magazines, newspapers, book publishers, advertising agencies, both national and international. In August, 2011, he embedded with the 1-52nd Arctic Thunder Dustoff (helicopter medical evacuation) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, his artwork and writing appearing in GQ online.

Saturday, December 3rd from 10am-5pm Ellen Weinstein will lead our hands-on workshop, an event with limited seats. Weinstein, a  world-renowned illustrator and frequent contributor to many publications, will introduce basic visual thinking skills that will lead you through visualizing a story from text. How do you employ visual metaphors without being cliché? How do you create visual empathy with a subject? When is humor appropriate? During the day, we will create, discuss and think about word and image, not as separate entities but as halves of a whole.

Weinstein is a graduate of Pratt Institute and is an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has received awards from American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, Print’s Regional Design Annual, Society of Publication Designers, Society of News Designers and the Art Directors Club. Weinstein exhibits her work in local New York galleries as well as galleries in the US and Italy. You can see her work at

Registration for this event is now open at . Make sure you receive an email confirmation!

We hope you enjoy this very special event.

Established in 2012, the Institute is a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford Universities. Our mission is simple: Sponsor thinking, building and speculating on how stories are discovered and told in a networked, digitized world.
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