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Computation + Journalism Symposium 2016

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C+J 2016 is in the Heart of Silicon Valley

Data and computation drive our world, often without sufficient critical assessment or accountability. Journalism is adapting responsibly—finding and creating new kinds of stories that respond directly to our new societal condition. Join us for a two-day conference exploring the interface between journalism and computing.


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Videos of #CJ2016

Watch snapshots of insights from the symposium in this summary video:

Watch full videos of the symposium sessions:

Coverage of #CJ2016

-Election deception is nothing new, says Stanford Professor Jeff Hancock

-Computational methods promise journalistic advances, says New York Times Data Editor Sarah Cohen

-Seeing is believing: Tamara Munzner’s keynote on visualization and journalism

-News beyond numbers: Seeing stories in an age of data

-Machine learning increases potential techniques for investigative reporting

-Hamilton lyrics teach journalists how to engage their audience

About the Symposium

The Computation+Journalism Symposium is a celebration and synthesis of new ways to find and tell news stories with, by and about data and algorithms. It is a venue to seed new collaborations between journalists and computer and data scientists: a bazaar for the exchange of ideas between industry/practice and academia/research.

Journalists working today routinely encounter social and political systems that are driven by new technologies. To critique their operation, a journalist needs an understanding of computation — of the consequences of classification and counting, of the collection and analysis of data, and of the accountability of algorithms. Far from virtual, inert quantities, data and computation exert real forces in the physical world, shaping and defining systems of power that will play larger and larger roles in people's lives.

Journalists, "the explainers of last resort," need to adapt responsibly — finding and creating new kinds of "stories" that respond directly to new technologies, whether that “story” be a piece written in English or in Python, a data visualization, an API or database, an immersive virtual experience, or a sensor drone deployment.

Computation+Journalism is a forum for discussing the ways journalism is and should be adapting in the face of new technologies. We invite the participation of a broad range of thinkers, doers and storytellers to this interdisciplinary meeting, a hybridization of journalism and the computing and data sciences. We want to hear from journalists with an interest in, or experience in, developing new technologies or applications, and from data and computer scientists working in news, or storytelling broadly, and collaborating or hoping to collaborate with journalistic organizations.

2016 Keynotes

Sarah Cohen
"The Newest Muckrakers: Investigative Reporting in the Age of Data Science"

Sarah Cohen The New York Times

Sarah Cohen leads a data journalism team at The New York Times focused on long-term investigative reporting. Stories from the team include the Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2016, "Beware the Fine Print," on the rights removed through the proliferation of arbitration clauses for everyday transactions. She served as the Knight Professor of the Practice at Duke University until 2012. There, she founded the Reporters' Lab, which reviewed and developed tools for investigative and public affairs reporting. Her prior experience includes more than a decade as a database editor for the Washington Post, where she shared in national journalism awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Award and the Robert F. Kennedy prize for public service. She is a member of the board of Investigative Reporters and Editors, where she served as president from 2014 through June 2016, and works as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Jeff Hancock
“Truth, Trustworthiness and Technology in Political Campaigns”

Jeff Hancock Stanford University

Jeff Hancock is a professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Center for Computational Social Science. Hancock studies the psychology of social media, using computational techniques and behavioral experiments to examine deception and trust, emotional dynamics, intimacy and relationships, and social support. Hancock’s TED Talk on deception has been seen over one million times and he’s been featured as a guest on "CBS This Morning" for his expertise on social media. His research has been frequently featured in the popular press, including the New York Times, CNN, NPR, CBS and the BBC. Hancock worked for Canada Customs before earning his PhD in Psychology. Prior to joining Stanford he was a professor of communication and co-chair of information science at Cornell University. He currently lives in Palo Alto with his wife and daughter, and he regularly gets shot at on the ice as a hockey goalie.

Tamara Munzner
"Visualization and Journalism: Four Vignettes"

Tamara Munzner University of British Columbia

Tamara Munzner is a professor at the University of British Columbia Department of Computer Science and holds a PhD from Stanford. She has been active in visualization research since 1991 and has published over sixty papers. She co-chaired InfoVis in 2003 and 2004, co-chaired EuroVis in 2009 and 2010, and is a member of the InfoVis Steering Committee and chair of the VIS Executive Committee. Her book, “Visualization Analysis and Design,” appeared in 2014, and she received the IEEE VGTC Visualization Technical Achievement Award in 2015. Her research interests include the development, evaluation and characterization of information visualization systems and techniques. She has worked on problem-driven visualization in a broad range of application domains, including genomics, evolutionary biology, geometric topology, computational linguistics, large-scale system administration, web log analysis and journalism. Her technique-driven interests include graph drawing and dimensionality reduction. Her evaluation interests include both controlled experiments in a laboratory setting and qualitative studies in the field.

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Friday, Sept. 30, 2016: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


DAY ONE, Friday:

8:30 a.m.
Coffee, tea and light pastries available.

8:55 a.m.
Welcome to C+J 2016
Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University
Jay Hamilton, Stanford University

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Keynote: “Truth, Trustworthiness and Technology in Political Campaigns” 
Jeff Hancock, Stanford University

10:15 - 10:30 a.m.

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Paper Session: “Campaign 2016: Fact Checking and Polling”
Moderated by Amanda Hickman, BuzzFeed Open Lab

Comparing Automated Factual Claim Detection Against Judgements of Journalism Organizations – Chengkai Li, University of Texas at Arlington

Fact Checking Congressional Voting Claims – Brett Walenz, Duke University

Why Political Polling is not Dead -- a Plea for Non-Probability Polling, Algorithms, and Big Data – Tobias Konitzer, Stanford University

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: “Reproducible Journalism”
Moderated by John Bohannon, Science; Garret Christensen, Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences and Berkeley Institute for Data Science

Participants: Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News science reporter; Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight lead science writer; Daniele Fanelli, Stanford METRICS senior research scientist and former journalist; Simine Vazire, UC Davis associate professor of psychology; Dan Nguyen, Stanford University Hearst Professional-in-Residence


12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Lunch (boxed meals provided)
Sponsored by Google News Lab

2:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Keynote: “The Newest Muckrakers:  Investigative Reporting in the Age of Data Science”
Sarah Cohen, The New York Times

3:15 - 3:30 p.m.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Paper Session: “Stories By and About Algorithms”
Moderated by Janine Zacharia, Stanford University

Finding the news lead in the data haystack: Automated local data journalism using crime data - Måns Magnusson, Linköping University

A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States– Emma Pierson, Stanford University

TerrorTube: Algorithms and Islamic State on YouTube – Dhiraj Murthy, University of Texas at Austin


4:30 - 4:45 p.m.
Demos Overview
Dawn Garcia, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford

4:45 - 5:00 p.m.
Presentation: The 2016 Election in Google Search
Simon Rogers, Google News Lab

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Demos and Reception with snacks, beer, wine and light beverages
Demo stations:

Consumer Driven Investigative Journalism – Sarah Alvarez, Outlier Media

Duke Transcription Project – Kim Patch, Duke University/Scriven

Election 2016 in Google Search - Google News Lab

ePADD software – Peter Chan, Glynn Edwards and Josh Schneider, Stanford University

Jabberwocky – Abhijeet Mohapatra, Stanford University

Watchup Daily Newscast App – Adriano Farano, Watchup

DAY TWO, Saturday:

8:30 a.m.
Coffee, tea and light pastries available.

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Keynote: “Visualization and Journalism: Four Vignettes” 
Tamara Munzner, University of British Columbia

10:15 - 10:30 a.m.

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Paper Session: “Documents, Data mining and Discovery” 
Moderated by Cheryl Phillips, Stanford University

Flexible data scraping, multi-language indexing, entity extraction and taxonomies: a Swiss tool to deal with huge amounts of unstructured data – Titus Plattner, Tamedia

What do Journalists do with Documents? Field Notes for Natural Language Processing Researchers – Jonathan Stray, Columbia University


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: “Finding Story Ideas in Large Datasets”
Moderated by Angèle Christin, Stanford University

Participants: Meredith Broussard, New York University; Shawn McIntosh, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Jennifer Pan, Stanford University


12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Lunch (boxed meals provided)

2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Paper Session: “How to Grab Attention”
Moderated by Stacy-Marie Ishmael, BuzzFeed News/ John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford

Domain Specific Newsbots - Live Automated Reporting Systems involving Two Way Natural Language Communication – Al Johri, The Washington Post

Headliner, an integrated headline suggestion system – Shuguang Wang, The Washington Post

Make it go viral - Generating attractive headlines for distributing news articles on social media – Hiroyuki Fujishiro, Hosei University; and Akisato Kimura, NTT Communication Science Laboratories


3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Paper Session: “The Story Behind the Story”
Moderated by Krishna Bharat, Founder of Google News

Playing with Pop Culture: Writing an Algorithm To Analyze and Visualize Lyrics From the Musical “Hamilton” – Joel Eastwood and Erik Hinton, The Wall Street Journal

Multidimensional Analysis of Gender and Age Differences in News Consumption – Jisun An and Haewoon Kwak, Qatar Computing Research Institute

Towards Editorial Transparency in Computational Journalism – Jennifer Stark, University of Maryland

4:00 - 4:10 p.m.
Closing Remarks
Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University
Jay Hamilton, Stanford University

Registration + Logistics

Thank you for attending C+J 2016 at Stanford.


C+J 2016 is taking place in Stanford's Paul Brest Hall near the Munger Graduate Residence/Stanford Law School on the university's main campus.

Paul Brest Hall at Stanford University: 555 Salvatierra Walk Stanford, CA 94305

On Friday, most parking restrictions on campus are enforced until 4 p.m. (the Oval is restricted until 6 p.m.), so discounted parking is available in the self-pay Galvez Lot (15-20 min. walk to Paul Brest Hall) using our event code: 4681. Metered parking is also available a bit closer at the Tresidder Memorial Union. On Saturday, parking is generally free at most locations on campus, and we recommend parking in the nearby underground Wilbur Field Garage (formerly known as Parking Structure 6) that is free on weekends. If you are using public transit, Stanford is located near the Palo Alto Caltrain Station. 

Air Travel Recommendations:

Both San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) are convenient for getting to Stanford.

Although San Francisco is the largest of the Bay Area's airports and offers the most airlines and flights, some visitors find that San Jose’s smaller size makes it a somewhat more convenient alternative, especially for domestic flights.

Learn more about previous C+J conferences at Columbia University and at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

2015 (Columbia) 2013 (Georgia Tech)

2014 (Columbia)2008 (Georgia Tech)

Brown Showcase

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation's 1st annual Media Innovation Showcase will be held the night before C+J, on Thursday, September 29 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Check out how Magic Grant teams and Brown Fellows spent the last year developing groundbreaking media technologies and producing award-winning stories.


Call for Papers

The paper submission period closed on July 22, 2016, 
and the evaluation process has concluded.

We are pleased to invite papers that explore the interface between data and computer science and journalism. We divide submissions into one of four categories:

Stories, visualizations or other interactive experiences exemplary of outstanding journalism produced about or with data, code and algorithms. Platforms that support journalistic work and which enable new ways of finding, producing, curating or disseminating stories and other news content. Research papers which explore a question of interest in journalism or information studies, or in data and computing science, as it relates back to journalism and news information. Pedagogical innovations, describing how technology can be used in the teaching of journalism, or journalism can be used in the training in data and computer science and other branches of engineering.

Evaluation: We will judge submissions in the separate categories — stories, platforms, research and pedagogy — on their own merits, but all should be reflective and seek to share knowledge that leads the field forward. For instance, submissions about stories or visualizations might explain the story as well as how it was enabled or constrained by technology; platform submissions might detail what is unique about the platform and how its design affords journalistic work; and research submissions might articulate a research question and contribution to state-of-the-art knowledge. All submissions will be reviewed by experts in the field, and accepted papers will be invited to present the work in demo and oral sessions at the symposium.

Topics: We are seeking contributions within the four categories above on the following topics. While this is an extensive list, do not be limited by it. We are trying to cast the widest possible net in mapping out the interplay between computation and journalism.

  • Accuracy and Verification

  • Algorithmic Accountability and Investigation

  • Audience Studies

  • Automated/Robot Journalism

  • Behavioral Modeling and Profiling of News Readers

  • Computation and Data Journalism Education

  • Data and Computing in Different News Domains: Sports, Health, Business, Economy, Politics, Etc.

  • Data Mining News and Social Media

  • Data Visualization and Storytelling

  • Editorial Support Systems

  • Fact-Checking

  • Journalism Ethics

  • Media Bias and Diversity

  • Natural Language Processing/Computational Linguistics

  • News and Mobile Computing

  • News Analytics, Metrics, Impact and Propagation

  • News User Experiences and Interactivity

  • Open Data, Civic Data and APIs

  • Personalization and Recommendation

  • Prediction and Simulation in the News

  • Rumor Detection and Tracking

  • Sensor and Drone Journalism

  • Source Finding (e.g. eyewitnesses, experts)

  • Tools, Platforms and Services to Support Journalistic Work

  • Transparency, Trust and Credibility

Publishing: Papers will be published as part of an online proceedings linked off this site but should be considered "non-archival" for the sake of journal submissions elsewhere. At the same time, we highly encourage unique and novel contributions with limited overlap to other related publications the author may have or intend to publish. You can view selected papers from C+J 2015 online.

Format: All submissions must be in PDF format, follow a standard set by the Association for Computing Machinery, and should not exceed five (5) pages, including references.

Call for Panels

The panel proposal period closed on July 22, 2016, 
and the evaluation process has concluded.

We are also soliciting panel proposals in the categories detailed above: 
stories, platforms, research and pedagogy.

A panel will consist of between three or four participants plus a moderator, and it should be thought of as a discussion on a topic of interest to the computation and journalism communities. Our goal with this line of solicitation is to surface new topics and extend the reach of the meeting to new communities.

A panel proposal should have a proposed title, discussion of likely topics and questions to be covered, and list of likely panelists and their affiliations.


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Stanford Journalism
Stanford Computational Journalism Lab
Google News Lab
Scranton Gillette

Program Committee

Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University (Co-Chair)

Emily Bell, Columbia University

Larry Birnbaum, Northwestern University

Meredith Broussard, New York University

Sarah Cohen, The New York Times

Nick Diakopoulos, University of Maryland - College Park

Irfan Essa, Georgia Institute of Technology

James Hamilton, Stanford University (Co-Chair)

Mark Hansen, Columbia University

Bahareh Heravi, National University of Ireland - Galway

Jessica Hullman, University of Washington

Cheryl Phillips, Stanford University



Contact Vignesh Ramachandran at Stanford:




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