Calls for Participation

The projects we support often need help from either the tech or journalism communities, gathering opinions or testing out new tools. Below we have two projects needing assistance and evaluation:

  1. Help a study characterizing online harassment of women journalists on Twitter; and
  2. Participate in an evaluation of a tool that aids in community-centered interpretation of social media posts to address biases and misinterpretation.

In addition, the Brown Institute is looking for a spring intern to help explore “hybrid” gatherings – those that take place both online and in-person. We are building a kind of “extension” to our physical space in Pulitzer Hall and need some technical programing help, working with the platform.

1. Help Study Abusive Speech on Twitter

Women journalists experience inordinate amounts of abuse on social media, and there are few effective tools for reducing the harm they experience as a result.

The goal of this project is to develop tools that automatically detect online harassment of women journalists on Twitter and support their preferences about how to handle this material (e.g. archive/hide, delete, forward for review). To do this, we are recruiting women journalists to join an online workshop where they will use their Twitter data with our custom web interface to indicate the interactions on their account that reflect abusive or problematic tweets from their timeline.

The purpose of this workshop is two-fold. First, labeling tweets that you’ve received will provide our team with the training data needed to build better machine learning models for detecting such tweets automatically. Second, this will be an opportunity for women journalists facing online harassment to connect and (depending on the final composition of the workshop) receive training and support around these issues.

We expect the workshop to take place over about 2.5 hours in late January, 2022, with the final schedule determined by selected participants. In order to have an appropriate mix of participants, we ask that you complete the very brief application below. We will accept participants on a rolling basis until the workshop is filled; we expect to engage about 10-12 individuals per workshop and may schedule additional dates if demand is high. Accepted participants who effectively complete the annotation portion of the workshop will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

Please complete this brief application if you are interested, and we will contact you to follow up with additional information. You are welcome to share this sign up form with friends or colleagues, but please do not post to social media or email lists.

For more information about the project, please check out the project’s landing page.

It is also possible to participate in this research outside of a scheduled workshop; you can indicate your interest here and someone will get back to you.

Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Susan E. McGregor,
Dr. Julia Hirschberg (PI),

2. Participate in a Study – 2021-22 Magic Grant’s InterpretMe 

We are reaching out to you to invite you to participate in a learning journey to perform community-centered interpretation of social media posts to address biases and misinterpretation to benefit journalists, youth, and the community at large.

InterpretMe is a web-based app that helps journalists to understand and contextualize social media posts by youth of color to reduce possible bias and harm to the authors of the post, and their family and community.

Please click here to begin the learning process. This InterpretMe learning process includes pre- and post-assessment. The complete learning process will not take more than 40 minutes. We value your time, response, and input. We strictly follow SAFELab IRB review and procedures to protect your privacy, data, and other personal identifications. All the data and information provided on this learning platform will be kept confidential. This data will not be used for any other purposes other than developing better social media interpretation tools for educators and other reporting professionals.

Please feel free to forward this blog post to colleagues and other journalists as you see fit. Please click here to learn more about Columbia University’s SAFELab.

Click here: InterpretMe Journalist Module to start your learning journey.

Thank you for your interest in improving social media analysis within the field of journalism, the greater community, and in the US and beyond.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

Siva Mathiyazhagan,
Associate Director of Strategies and Impact

InterpretMe Flyer

3. Spring Internship – Build an Extension for the Brown Institute

The pandemic brought with it a range of tools for virtual collaboration. In 2020, the Brown Institute space was taken offline and our events were virtual. The affordances of virtual platforms, and in particular the highly-programmable, quickly became obvious — people participated in events who ordinarily would not, either as presenters or as audience members, and scriptable interactions helped boost the depth of involvement in our discussions.

As we begin returning to in-person events, we would like to hold onto the best properties of a virtual environment. Our proposal is for the development of a “multi-modal” Extension to the Brown Institute space. This will be a series of interventions both in as well as in the physical Brown Institute.

Partnering with the original architect of the Brown Institute space, and with engineers from, the Brown Institute Extension will be a space for unique collaboration. The Extension will support and enhance our programming in the technical tools of journalism, including data+computation, data visualization, AR/VR, machine learning, natural language processing… and the list goes on.

We hope to find an intern with an interest in HCI and computation to help us design and program our Extension. Ideal candidates should have basic coding skills but more importantly, should be able to think in innovative ways about the design of virtual spaces. This position is open to both graduate and undergraduate students (junior or senior), and international students on an F1 or J1 visa. This position does not count towards academic credit.

To apply please send an email directly to the project lead at with your CV, and explain your background and skill sets related to the project in the body of your email.